The 2021 session of the Virginia General Assembly produced an additional flurry of employment-related laws. The following are some of the more significant laws for many employers:
Employee protections; medicinal use of cannabis oil. Prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against an employee for such employee's lawful use of cannabis oil pursuant to a valid written certification issued by a practitioner for the treatment or to eliminate the symptoms of the employee's diagnosed condition or disease. The bill provides that such prohibition does not (i) restrict an employer's ability to take any adverse employment action for any work impairment caused by the use of cannabis oil or to prohibit possession during work hours; (ii) require an employer to commit any act that would cause the employer to be in violation of federal law or that would result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding; or (iii) require any defense industrial base sector employer or prospective employer to hire or retain any applicant or employee who tests positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in excess of certain amounts.
Virginia Human Rights Act; discrimination on the basis of disability. Adds discrimination on the basis of disability as an unlawful discriminatory practice under the Virginia Human Rights Act. That category had been omitted in last year’s version of the Human Rights Act.
Virginia Overtime Wage Act; penalties. Requires an employer to compensate certain employees at a rate not less than one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay, defined in the bill, for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any one workweek. This law incorporates many of the federal law wage and hour provisions as part of Virginia law, and now allows employees to sue individually or as members of a class for wage violations, providing a remedy in addition to federal law.
Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19. Establishes a presumption that COVID-19 causing the death or disability of health care providers is an occupational disease compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act.
Employment; domestic service; Virginia Human Rights Act. Provides that individuals who are engaged in providing domestic service are not excluded from employee protection laws and laws regarding the payment of wages. The measure also provides that the prohibitions on nondiscrimination in employment of the Virginia Human Rights Act apply to employers that employ one or more domestic workers.
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