Employment Law Updates

Our last blog focused on Virginia’s new law requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The law requires employers to post in a conspicuous location and include in any employee handbook information concerning an employee's rights to reasonable accommodation for disabilities, and provide such information to (i) new employees upon commencement of their employment and (ii) any employee within 10 days of such employee's providing notice to the employer that such employee has a disability. We have received several inquiries about how to handle those requirements, as well as similar requirements of the 2020 law concerning pregnancy/childbirth protections.

Effective July 1, 2021, Virginia has a new law requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. This law applies to employers who “employ more than five employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.” Its requirements are similar to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees. A "person with a disability" means any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities or who has a record of such impairment.

Effective today, July 1, 2021, Virginia has some new laws concerning cannabis products that employers should note. Adults aged 21 and older may possess and use up to one ounce of cannabis in private residences. Adults may also grow up to four cannabis plants. These home-grown plants should be kept out of public view, away from people under 21, and labeled with ID tags. It will still be illegal to do any of the following:

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard for the health care industry, with nonbinding guidance for other employers. According to OSHA, the standard aims to "protect health care and health care support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present." Covered health care employers must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan to identify and control COVID-19 hazards in the workplace, and must also implement certain other measures to reduce workplace transmission of COVID-19, such as patient screening, increased cleaning and ensuring the use of personal protective equipment.

We have received numerous inquiries about the effect of Governor Northam’s May 14 Order which eases many Covid restrictions. There is much confusion about this issue. The Governor’s May 14 EO 79, which takes effect at midnight on May 28, focuses primarily on relaxing the mask requirements. In addition, however, the order, states:

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