Private employers. The Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age (40 years or older), marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a veteran (VA Stat. Sec. 2.2-3900 et seq.). Sexual orientation, gender identity, and status as a veteran are protected characteristics effective July 1, 2020. The term “sexual orientation” means a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality. “Gender identity” means the gender-related identity, appearance, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.
Effective July 1, 2020, race discrimination includes discrimination based on “traits historically associated with race, including hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.”
Covered employers. Effective July 1, 2020, employers with 15 or more employees are covered. However, employers with more than 5 employees are covered for purposes of unlawful discharge of an employee based on race, color, religion, national origin, status as a veteran, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy, or childbirth or related medical conditions (including lactation) (VA Stat. Sec. 2.2-3903). Employers with more than 5 but fewer than 20 employees are prohibited from discharging an employee based on age. A former employee may bring a civil action in a general district or circuit court for a discriminatory discharge.
Effective July 1, 2020, it is unlawful under the VHRA for an employer to:
• Fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on a protected characteristic;