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Virginia Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

August 3, 2020

By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com

Virginia enacted legislation banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which became effective on July 1, 2020 after both the Virginia House and Virginia Senate passed HB 1663 and SB 868.  The Virginia Governor signed the legislation into law in April of 2020, entitled the Virginia Values Act. The new landmark legislation adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s civil rights protections contained within the Virginia Human Rights Act.

The New Virginia Sexual Orientation Law

The Virginia House originally published a summary of the newly enacted legislation.  The summary of Virginia HB 1633 provides a good summation of this landmark legislation:

[The new law] creates explicit causes of action for unlawful discrimination in public accommodations and employment in the Virginia Human Rights Act. Currently, under the Act there is no cause of action for discrimination in public accommoddations, and the only causes of action for discrimination in employment are for (i) unlawful discharge on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, including lactation, by employers employing more than five but fewer than 15 persons and (ii) unlawful discharge on the basis of age by employers employing more than five but fewer than 20 persons.

The bill allows the causes of action to be pursued privately by the aggrieved person or, in certain circumstances, by the Attorney General. The bill prohibits discrimination in public and private employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill also codifies for state and local government employment the current prohibitions on discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, or status as a veteran.

Additionally, the bill (a) prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a veteran; (b) prohibits discrimination in credit on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, disability, and status as a veteran; and (c) adds discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, marital status, or status as a veteran as an unlawful housing practice…

Before the Virginia Values Act was enacted, employees in Virginia had little recourse for discrimination against them based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Now, employees in Virginia have access to a wide array of civil remedies against employers that discriminate against them. We look forward to assisting employees that have been the subject of these types of illegal discrimination.

Contact Us

When facing employment discrimination issues in Virginia it is important to obtain the advice of and representation of counsel.  Our law firm advises and represents individuals in sexual harassment matters in Virginia and other jurisdictions. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070.  Please also visit and like us on Facebook.

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