Employment Discrimination in Virginia

Employment discrimination against protected classes is illegal in Virginia.

Federal and state law prohibit Virginia employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in Virginia?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability
  • age (40 and older)
  • citizenship status, and
  • genetic information.

In addition, Virginia state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability: physical or mental
  • age
  • genetic information, and
  • marital status.

Several cities in the U.S. have their own laws protecting additional characteristics or extending protection to more employees. For example, in Alexandria, it is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Contact your local government to learn more.

Which Virginia Employers Are Subject to the Antidiscrimination Laws?

Federal antidiscrimination laws apply to Virginia employers with 15 or more employees, with the following exceptions:

  • age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and
  • equal pay for men and women (all employers).

In Virginia, companies with one or more employees are subject to the state's antidiscrimination law.

What Government Agency Regulates Workplace Discrimination in Virginia?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in Virginia.

The Virginia Division of Human Rights enforces state antidiscrimination law in Virginia. You can contact the Virginia Human Rights Council at 804-225-2292 or go to its website.

For more information on employment discrimination, see The Manager's Legal Handbook, by attorneys Lisa Guerin and Amy DelPo (Nolo).

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