Virginia

Virginia Council on Human Rights

The Old Dominion State of Virginia is home to a population of about 7.77 million people, and generates an annual GDP of $383 billion, according to estimates in 2007 and 2008. The state’s economy has evolved radically over the past few decades. Today, 18 Fortune 500 companies call VA home. Federal agencies and government related businesses generate thousands of jobs for Virginia residents. Software companies, telecom businesses, consulting agencies, security contractors, and military facilitators all generate significant income and prestige for the state.

The Northern Virginia corridor serves as a bedroom community for many of the most prominent figures in the federal government. Reports suggest that as much as half of all internet traffic in the United States passes through information processing centers in the North VA region. In the more southern and western portions of the state, agricultural industries dominate, and Virginia generates a fair amount of money from cash crops such as peanuts, cotton, tobacco, and cattle, to name a few.

The Virginia Council on Human Rights (based in Richmond) handles state discrimination, harassment, wage and hour, and retaliation cases. The agency provides safeguards and enforcement mechanisms to ensure the safety, security, and economic well-being of state workers. Per the Commonwealth of the Virginia’s laws, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers on the basis of pregnancy, national origin, race, age, disability, religion, color, gender, and certain medical conditions.

The Virginia Council on Human Rights can investigate violations of unlawful discrimination, mediate between employees and employers, and enforce sanctions. The VCHR also offers training modules and further education to explain state laws and regulations to employers. Virginia maintains separate agencies to handle other worker complaints:

  • The VA Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Program ensures employers provide safe working environments and helps workers who have been subjected to unsafe conditions.

  • The ESA Wage and Hour Division fights for workers who have been denied proper overtime pay, or who have been subjected to other unfair pay arrangements.

  • The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission tackles matters relating to inequitable resolution of workers’ compensation issues.

The Old Dominion state once served as a main cultural center of the Confederacy, whose raison d'être was to ensure the continued legalization of race-based slavery. More than a century and a half after the conclusion of the Civil War, Virginia’s society has been utterly transformed. Today’s VA would look nearly unrecognizable to 19th century Virginians. Particularly in the northern areas near the nation’s capital, Virginians tend to be progressive with respect to labor laws and employee rights. That said, the state remains a political battleground, and not all employers advocate racial and gender equality.

For employees coping with discrimination in the workplace, legal assistance is available. The most common cases reported include:

  1. Discrimination based on race or gender. When you’ve been insulted, put down, mistreated, or abused based on race or gender, there are specific laws designed to protect you. Don’t allow discrimination at work to negatively affect you; seek assistance immediately if you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace.

  2. Withholding wages and falsifying payroll documentation. Emploers may not alter time sheets, adjust time clocks, and refuse overtime payments. Employees who experience these injustices can hold their employers liable for their actions and seek compensation.

  3. Family Medical Leave Act violations. If an employer fails to offer FMLA leave or outright denies your FMLA rights, you can respond legally and potentially take the employer to litigation. Whether you need time off to care for a loved one, yourself, or to welcome a new baby into the world, qualified employees can obtain leave.

Do not suffer in silence. If your rights have been violated in the workplace, speak up. Preserve your rights by seeking legal assistance from a public, private, or governmental agency, or reach out to a local employment attorney today to review the details of your case.