Private employers. The Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age (over 40 years), marital status, or disability (VA Stat. Sec. 2.2-3900 et seq.).
A separate provision of the VHRA prohibits employers with more than 5 but fewer than 15 employees from discharging an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions (including lactation), or age (VA Stat. Sec. 2.2-3903). The provision allows a former employee to bring a civil action in a general district or circuit court but applies only when there has been a discharge from employment.
Employers that are not covered by the VHRA have been sued for wrongful discharge for violations of public policy not reflected in the VHRA (Rowan v. Tractor Supply Co., 559 S.E.2d 709 (Va. 2002)).
Retaliation claims. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee alleging retaliation for filing a previous discrimination charge does not have to exhaust administrative remedies (i.e., file a separate retaliation charge with an administrative agency) before bringing a civil action alleging retaliation (Jones v. Calvert Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297 (4th Cir. 2009)). In this case, the employee filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging her employer violated Title VII by giving her a negative performance review in retaliation for previous discrimination charges she had filed. She was subsequently fired, and she brought a lawsuit alleging that her employer fired her because of the retaliation charge. The ...