Virginia Termination (with Discharge) laws & HR compliance analysis

Virginia Termination (with Discharge): What you need to know

Virginia is an "employment-at-will" state. This means that an employer may generally terminate an employee at any time, for any reason or no reason at all, unless an agreement exists that provides otherwise. There are, however, limitations on the doctrine. For instance, a federal or state law, collective bargaining agreement, or individual employment contract may restrict an employer's ability to terminate an employee.
Although the Virginia courts generally adhere to the doctrine of employment at will, there are a number of notable exceptions to the rule, including the following:
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As a general rule, if a federal, state, or local law grants employees the right to engage in an activity or to enjoy a benefit, employees should never be disciplined, discharged, or otherwise retaliated against for requesting or attempting to do so.
To list a few key examples, state law prohibits employers from discharging employees for engaging in the following activities:
Court summons. It is illegal to discipline an employee for responding to a summons to serve on a jury. Employers are also forbidden from discharging an employee for missing work when summoned to court to testify as a witness (VA Code Sec. 18.2-465.1).
Crime victims. It is unlawful for an employer to discharge, refuse to hire, or discriminate against an employee who is a victim of a crime for taking leave to attend a criminal proceeding (VA Code Sec. 40.1-28.7:2).
Election officials. Employers are prohibited from taking any adverse employment action against employees who take time off from work to serve as election officials as long as the employee gives reasonable notice of such service (VA Code Sec. 24.2-118.1).

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