Virginia Employment Laws
The Virginia Human Rights Act ("VHRA") prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability. Some of VHRA's key provisions follow:
VHRA [Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3900] makes it illegal for an employer:
[To discriminate] because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability, in places of public accommodation, including educational institutions and in real estate transactions; in employment; preserve the public safety, health and general welfare; and further the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the Commonwealth;
VHRA creates a cause of action for discharge but not for retaliation.
Employer Coverage: VHRA applies to employers that employ between five and 15 employees.
Employees Covered: The VHRA applies to all individuals in the Commonwealth in employment.
Establishing a Claim
The main arguments advanced by employees bringing a VHRA claim are as follows:
- Disparate Treatment (intentional discrimination)
- Disparate Impact (neutral policies or practices that adversely affect a protected group)
- Failure to Accommodate (religion)
The Human Rights Council (HRC) enforces the VHRA. In general, an employee starts the process by filing a complaint (charge) with the HRC within 180 days of the discriminatory act.
Potential remedies under VHRA include:
- Up to one year back pay with interest
- Attorney's fees, not to exceed 25% of the back pay awarded.