As I trudge through the various states’ employment discrimination laws in the workplace, I have found a wide variety of laws. Some states broaden the scope of federal statutes enough that it boggles the mind while others give employees no more protection than that of the federal employment discrimination in the workplace. Virginia falls in between the two extremes.
Virginia’s employment discrimination laws in the workplace make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, association with disabled individuals, childbirth or related medical conditions, color, disability (physical or mental), marital status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, or sex.
Smaller businesses are also held accountable under Virginia’s employment discrimination laws in the workplace. This includes businesses with six or more employees.
Claims in Virginia can be filed with one of two agencies: the state agency, the Virginia Council on Human Rights (VCHR), or the federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies will work together to resolve you claim as long as you file in one agency and request that your claim be cross-filed with the other. The VCHR can be contacted at (804) 225-2292 and the EEOC can be contacted at one of three offices:
- Washington D.C.
Claims through the VCHR must be filed within 180 days of the date of the discriminatory act while you have 300 days of this act to file with the EEOC. Because of the difference in deadlines it is best to first file through the VCHR and then have them cross-file your claim with the EEOC. File early to avoid delays due to legalities in the filing process as these delays can push your past the deadline. Retaining an attorney is a big help, but is not required.
If your claim is not resolved by these agencies, you may need to pursue it in court. In both state and federal cases, you must first file with the appropriate agency and receive a release from that agency. The EEOC will release your claim by giving you one of two documents: “Dismissal and Notice of Rights,” or “Right to Sue.” A claim filed in federal court must be filed within 90 days of receiving either of the above documents. Lawsuits filed in Virginia’s state court system have a 180 day time limit from the date that the discriminatory act occurred.
None of Virginia’s employment discrimination in the workplace laws really stand out when compared to those of other states, but this state still provides a wider range of coverage than the federal government does. That, combined with the state-supported agency to investigate and resolve claims gives acceptable protection for employees.
As I have researched employment discrimination laws in the workplace, I’ve found that many of the states go above those that the federal government has issued. The federal employment discrimination laws in the workplace seem to set a standard that the states follow, elaborating as they see fit. Very few states keep only the statutes that the federal government has set.
The federal employment discrimination laws in the workplace make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of age (40 and over), color, disability (defined as an impairment that impacts a major life activity), national origin, pregnancy and pregnancy related medical conditions, race, religion, and sex. These federal statues apply to businesses with 15 or more employees (often, smaller businesses are covered by your state laws), except in the case of age discrimination, which affects businesses with 20 or more employees.
The federal government employment discrimination laws in the workplace also provide for a federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to handle claims of discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC investigates claims and attempts to resolve those that are qualified as valid claims. Check our site for your state’s employment discrimination laws in the workplace for time limits in filing both state and federal claims.
If the EEOC is unable to resolve valid claims, workers are able to file their case in a federal court. Cases may not be filed in federal court until release documentation is issued by the EEOC. As a release, the EEOC will provide one of two documents: “Dismissal and Notice of Rights,” or “Notice of Right to Sue.” Once one of these documents is received, workers have 90 days to file a federal court case.
In many states, workers have two agencies to file a claim through; in most states, the filing time limit is shorter for the state agency, which means that it is best to file through your state’s agency first. Once you have filed through the state agency, you can request that your claim be cross-filed with the EEOC. By doing this, you do not have to file with both the state agency and the EEOC. When you have your claim cross-filed, you case is worked by worked agencies in a work-sharing situation. Again, check our site for your state’s employment discrimination laws in the workplace to determine the protocol and statutes for your state.
If you find that your state does not provide an agency to work through or you decide not to work through your state’s agency, you will need to contact the EEOC office for your area. To find this information, check our site for your state’s employment discrimination laws in the workplace or call the EEOC’s National Contact Center. The National Contact Center can be reached at (800) 669-4000 or TTY: (800) 669-6820.
The federal government has set standards in their employment discrimination laws in the workplace; many states have not only adopted these standards, but have expanded on them. Because of this, discrimination claims are often resolved without court cases having to be filed, making it easier on workers who have already suffered from employment discrimination in the workplace.