The Virginia Human Rights Council Helps Fight Employment Discrimination

As an employee in the commonwealth, you have legal rights against discriminatory conduct by your employer. The Virginia Human Rights Council is responsible for overseeing employment discrimination complaints filed by Virginians within the commonwealth alleging employment discrimination against their employers. The Virginia Human Rights Council enforces the Virginia Human Rights Act or Chapter 39 of the Code of Virginia. The act applies to employers with six or more employees. Covered employers cannot discriminate against their employees based on pregnancy, age, mental or physical disability, marital status, gender, national origin, color, creed, religion or race. Similar to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Virginia Human Rights Council has the legal authority to investigate complaints alleging employment discrimination and if the federal government decides to pursue the complaint, the Virginia agency can help the investigation.

To begin the formal employment discrimination, an affected worker must submit a written complaint with the council within the statutory limitations. Once the employee files a complaint, the Virginia Human Rights Council can further investigate meritorious complaints filed within the 180-day statutory limitations period. The 180-day period begins at the time the alleged discriminatory conduct occurred. The limitations period under the federal equal employment opportunity laws is also typically 180 days.

After an investigation, if the council concludes a discriminatory act occurred, it can order equitable relief, including back pay, job reinstatement, promotion, reclassification or additional pay. The Virginia Human Rights Council can also order an employer to remove any negative personnel records from an employee’s file. Click here to download an application to begin the investigation and complaint process. If you need additional information regarding your federal employment rights, click here.

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