Employment law is ever-changing, especially in states with shifting political landscapes like Virginia. While the Virginia 2023 legislative session wrapped up earlier this year, most of the laws passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Youngkin did not take effect until July 1 of this year. The General Assembly passed several employment law-related bills that all Virginia employers and employees should be aware of and which are now in effect. Our Richmond employment lawyers provide a brief overview of these new laws herein.
Virginia’s Speak Out Law
In the past, it was not uncommon for employers to include non-disclosure provisions in their employment contracts that prohibited current and former employees from going public about incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault. In 2022, President Biden signed into law the federal “Speak Out Act,” which renders such provisions unenforceable if they were signed before the alleged harassment occurred (referred to as “pre-dispute” clauses). The federal law also prohibits non-disparagement agreements related to sexual harassment, which generally prohibit current and former employees from speaking ill of their employers.
This year, Virginia passed its own version of the Speak Out Act, which went into effect on July 1. While the federal version applies only to pre-dispute non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses, the Virginia version does not contain such language. It is therefore likely that the Virginia version applies to both pre- and post-dispute agreements, arguably making it broader than the federal version.
Minimum Wage for Employees With Disabilities
Historically, employers were allowed under both Virginia law and federal law to pay certain employees with disabilities less than minimum wage, provided that they obtained a special certificate issued by the federal government. House Bill 1924, which went into effect July 1, removed that exception. All employees hired after July 1, 2023, must be paid at least minimum wage, and the bill encourages various state agencies to prioritize transitioning employees who made sub-minimum wage before July 1 to minimum wage (or above) employment.
Employee Social Security Numbers
Senate Bill 1040, which went into effect July 1, prohibits employer use of employees’ Social Security numbers or derivatives thereof (e.g., the last four digits) as employee identification numbers, as well as the use of such numbers on identification cards, access cards, or similar cards issued to employees.
Organ Donation Leave
Senate Bill 1086, which went into effect July 1, requires that employers with 50 or more employees provide eligible employees with up to 60 days of unpaid organ donation leave per 12-month period or up to 30 days of unpaid bone marrow donation leave. Employers must restore employees to their former positions upon their return, continue insurance coverage during the leave, and pay any commissions earned prior to the leave. The bill also prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under it.
Contact a Richmond Employment Lawyer for More Information
Employment law changes quickly. To ensure that you do not run afoul of the latest changes, you should speak to an attorney to update your employment practices and policies. For more information, please contact a Richmond employment lawyer at Pierce / McCoy by calling 757-304-6655 or using our online contact form.