As COVID-19 rages on, families, businesses, and organizations have been forced to adapt. This has been particularly difficult given reports of recent spikes in cases and the demands of keeping businesses afloat. However, it is important that certain information is not lost in the shuffle. Employers should be sure to take note of several new Virginia laws – passed earlier this year before COVID-19. Effective July 1, these laws significantly impact the obligations of businesses and the rights of employees.
Employers should be sure to update their existing policies and plan for related training in order to ensure compliance with the new laws, which include (but are not limited to):
- Non-compete ban. Virginia is joining the ranks of many states, such as Maryland, by banning the use of non-competes for low-wage workers. The threshold for the ban is actually higher than Maryland, extending to wages of approximately $59,000 per year – and including interns and independent contractors (among others). The new law carries significant penalties for employers who require signature as a condition to employment or seek to enforce an improper agreement.
- Independent Contractor liability. Historically, classifying workers as independent contractors has meant a reprieve from overtime obligations and many other employee benefits. Virginia’s new law more clearly narrows what employees can – and cannot – be classified as independent contractors, imposing severe penalties for employers that improperly classify.
- Increased Anti-Discrimination Penalties. The Supreme Court of the United States’ recent decision made sexual orientation a protected class under federal law. Virginia’s July 1 expansion of its Human Rights Act (VHRA) echoes this addition but also adds veterans’ status and gender identify. Even more notably, it expands the amount of damages (no cap) that employees can collect when suing under the Act (among other litigation-related rights).
A failure to update policies and practices can relate to even more liability during this already uncertain time. Check out my upcoming webinar for more information on the new laws and how to adapt your policies – and feel free to reach out to me discuss any specific questions.
ABOUT THEODORA STRINGHAM
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Theodora Stringham assists individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.
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