Action Items for All Employers to Avoid July Fireworks in Labor and Employment Law

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To enjoy the beginning of July without causing fireworks in the workplace, Virginia employers should undertake the following tasks to comply with various new laws passed by the Virginia General Assembly. Embedded are links to the blogs of Sands Anderson’s employment team that dive deeper into these new laws.

Virginia Values Act (Most sections take effect 7/1/20): This new anti-discrimination state law gives employees the right to sue for employment discrimination with no damage caps.

  • Update employee handbooks and anti-discrimination policies and procedures to:
    • Include two new protected categories of workers: sexual orientation and gender identity, and
    • Include accommodations for pregnancy and related medical conditions, such as lactation.
  • Add space in your workplace, other than a bathroom, to accommodate nursing mothers.
  • Don’t forget: These new laws apply to private employers employing at least six workers, as well as all state and local government entities.

 Wage and Hour Laws:

  • Review your payroll practices to make sure that you are paying individuals all the money they earn. Employees now have the right to bring a private lawsuit for wage theft and for lost wages. (Law took effect January 1, 2020).
  • Double check your payrolls to ensure that you have properly classified workers as employees or as independent contractors. Misclassified employees now have a private right to sue and are protected from retaliation. Virginia law now recognizes a presumption in favor of classifying workers as employees and against classifying workers as independent contractors, according to Internal Revenue Service guidelines. (Law goes into effect January 1, 2021).
  • Be particularly careful of wage theft if you are a general contractor. General contractors are now liable under Virginia law for the payment of wages of the employees of their subcontractors, and employees can now sue both general and subcontractors for lost wages. (Law applies to contracts entered into after July 1, 2020).
  • Adjust the minimum wages of your employees according to the minimum wage raises coming to Virginia in 2021, which will be: $9.50 on May 1, 2021, $11.00 on January 1, 2022, $12.00 on January 1, 2023, $13.50 on January 1, 2025, and $15.00 on January 1, 2026.

Non-Compete Agreements (effective on 7/1/20): “Low-wage employees” can now sue their employer to invalidate non-compete agreements. Employers cannot enter into or threaten to enforce non-compete agreements with “low-wage employees.”

  • Determine the average weekly wage amount of the Commonwealth through the Virginia Employment Commission; this new law considers employees who make less than this amount as “low-wage.”
  • Identify who qualifies as a low-wage employee on your payroll and refrain from requiring future non-compete agreements. (The new law does not void non-competes entered into with “low-wage employees” prior to July 1, 2020.)
  • Post notice of the prohibition of non-compete agreements for low-wage workers.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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