Virginia: Pregnancy Accommodations, Pay Transparency, and Marijuana Decriminalization


Varies; See Below


July 1, 2020


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In April of 2020, the Virginia legislature passed a number of bills affecting employee rights, such as LGBT anti-discrimination, wage theft prevention measures, and more.  In addition to these bills, there are further updates for Virginia employers to be aware of this summer.

Pregnancy Accommodations.  Effective July 1, 2020, a new act imposes additional pregnancy anti-discrimination protections on employers of five or more employees for each working day in 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or proceeding year.  Covered employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including lactation.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include providing more frequent or longer bathroom breaks, access to a private area other than a restroom to express breast milk, temporary transfer to a less hazardous or strenuous position, providing a modified work schedule, etc.  Employers will need to engage in the interactive process with an affected employee to determine what accommodations can be made.

Finally, employers must notify employees of their rights under the law by displaying a workplace poster and adding relevant information to employee handbooks.  This information must also be provided to new employees at time of hire, and to any employee within 10 days of the employee providing notice to the employer of the pregnancy.  Unlike the rest of the act, the poster and handbook requirements are not effective until October 29, 2020.

Pay Transparency.  Also effective July 1, 2020, employers may not prohibit employees from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing information about their own age or other employees’ wages.  Employers also may not take any retaliatory action against employees discussing wages. The exception to this regulation applies only to employees who have access to other workers’ compensation information as a function of their essential job duties, and who may not disclose wage information to individuals who otherwise have no access to such information, unless in connection to specific situations such as an investigation or legal proceeding.

Marijuana Decriminalization. Finally, HB 972 decriminalizes marijuana possession and significantly reduces penalties for offenses related to personal possession.  Previously, marijuana possession imposed a maximum fine of $500 and a 30-day jail sentence for a first offense.  With the new bill, a civil penalty of up to $25 can be imposed for each violation. The law seals prior criminal history records related to marijuana possession, except when a violation occurs while an individual is operating a commercial motor vehicle, which can still be reported to the DMV.

Action Items

  1. Review employee handbooks and workplace postings for compliance with new anti-discrimination updates.
  2. Train managing staff on pay transparency rights.
  3. Review background check procedures for consistency with marijuana decriminalization.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2020 ManagEase

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