2020 Virginia Employment Law Developments Virginia Values Act – Key Highlights

On April 11, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law the Virginia Values At that, effective July 1, 2020, makes substantial changes to the state’s employment discrimination laws. While several Virginia statutes address different forms of workplace discrimination, similar to federal law, the Virginia Values Act closes key gaps in Virginia law and in some places even surpasses federal protections.  Below is a brief summary of the statute’s changes to the law:

  • Adds sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status as protected classes, meaning that employers cannot discriminate because of an employee’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status.
  • Expands forms of discrimination prohibited beyond only termination, such as hostile work environment, pay equity, and any other discrete adverse action, if the employer has 15 or more employees. Employers are still prohibited from discriminatory terminations if they employ more than 5 individuals.
  • Prohibits, with limited exceptions, that an employee’s protected class is a motivating factor in any employment decision.
  • Provides employees with a right to go to court within 180 days after they receive a notice of right to sue from the Attorney General’s Division of Human Rights of the Department of Law. Successful litigants could be entitled to punitive damages, back pay, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees.
  • Pregnancy discrimination claims can go straight to court.
  • Removes caps on damages.
  • Adds types of discrimination claims Virginia public sector employees can grieve through their internal agency process, including sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status.

If you have any questions about Virginia Values Act or any employment matter and would like to speak with an attorney, contact Jeremy Greenberg, Esq.