Labor Rights and Enforcement: West Virginia
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Susan Borowski, Reliable Writing Services
- West Virginia regulates private sector labor relations by means of the West Virginia Labor-Management Relations Act for the Private Sector (LMRA). See Labor-Management Relations Act.
- The LMRA grants right similar to the National Labor Relations Act and is administered by the Labor Board. See Labor-Management Relations Act.
- An employee may not be eligible for unemployment benefits for any week or portion of a week in which he or she does not work due to a strike or other bona fide labor dispute, even if he or she did not participate. See Strikes.
Labor-Management Relations Act
Generally, private sector employers fall under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which oversees the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In West Virginia, most are also subject to the West Virginia Labor-Management Relations Act for the Private Sector (LMRA), which applies to private employers of 15 or more employees, but does not include public employers, anyone subject to the NLRA or the Railway Labor Act, nonprofit hospitals or anyone over whom the NLRB declines jurisdiction. See +W. Va. Code §21-1A-1 et seq. The LMRA is administered by the Labor Board.
Employees not covered under the law include agricultural or domestic employees, individuals employed by a parent or spouse, independent contractors or supervisors. See +W. Va. Code § 21-1A-2.
The LMRA grants union rights similar to the federal NLRA, including the right to organize, bargain collectively, engage in concerted activities for mutual aid or protection and the right to refrain from these activities. However, employers may enter into an agreement with a union requiring all employees to be union members.
An employee may not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits for any week or portion of a week in which he or she does not work due to a strike or other bona fide labor dispute, even if he or she did not participate. The hiring of nonstriking employees, contractors or other personnel on a temporary basis does not qualify a striking employee for benefits. However, if a striking employee is permanently replaced, he or she may be eligible for benefits.
A striking employee may demonstrate that he or she has been permanently replaced by showing that:
- He or she is currently employed by an employer that is the subject of a strike or other bona fide labor dispute; and
- His or her position has been occupied by another employee who has been notified that he or she is permanently replacing the employee who previously occupied the position.
A lockout is not a strike or a bona fide labor dispute and the employee may not be denied benefits by reason of a lockout. To establish that a lockout has occurred, an employee must show that:
- He or she physically presented himself or herself at work on the first day of the lockout or on the first day he or she was able to present himself or herself; and
- The employer denied the employee the opportunity to work.
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