The labor and employment law revolution in the Commonwealth of Virginia has provided robust protection against unlawful discrimination as well as a comprehensive enforcement scheme. As part of that revolution, the state enacted Senate Bill 712, which amended the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) to require a covered employer to provide reasonable accommodation for the known limitations of an employee related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless such an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
On July 15, 2020, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board approved an Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 to be enforced by the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health program (VOSH). Virginia is the first state to adopt a specific standard intended to protect workers and “to control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of [COVID-19]” in the workplace.
On April 9, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed House Bill (HB) 330, Virginia’s first law banning covenants not to compete against “low-wage employees.”
On April 12, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signaled his approval of—but has not yet signed—legislation (House Bill 972) that would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana. The impact of decriminalization on Virginia’s criminal process has been the highlight of the legislation, but the bill would also include restrictions that impact the application process for employers operating in the Commonwealth.
In our previous article—What Virginia Employers Might Have Missed While Managing COVID-19: The Silent Labor and Employment Law Revolution—we detailed some of the most impactful labor and employment law changes enacted by the Virginia General Assembly this year. These included an increased minimum wage, local-level public employee bargaining, a new cause of action for misclassification, and an overhauled employment discrimination framework. But Virginia’s labor and employment law revolution did not stop there.
Virginia has long billed itself as a business-friendly state with low taxes and commonsense employment regulations. But recent changes—largely adopted with little fanfare or scrutiny—are poised to revolutionize the labor and employment landscape in Virginia. These changes—compounded by the likely recession resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic—will present tremendous challenges for Virginia employers.
On March 23, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order No. 53 (EO-53), which restricts the operation of certain non-essential businesses including restaurants and recreational and entertainment businesses. The order goes into effect on March 24, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., and will remain in effect until at least 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020.
On March 21, 2019, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam approved an amendment and reenactment of Virginia Code § 8.01-413.1. The amendment requires employers to produce certain employment documents upon receipt of a written request from a current or former employee or employee’s attorney and awards possible damages to the employee if the employer fails to do so within the prescribed timeframe. Since the amendment became effective on July 1, 2019, Virginia employers are seeing an uptick in requests for the applicable documents.
In 2019, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase.
In U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Maryland Insurance Administration, No. 16-2408 (January 5, 2018), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the application of the summary judgment standard to a claim brought under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA).