Virginia Creates New Protections for Active Service Members, Veterans, and Their Family Members

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On July 1, Virginia Governor Northam signed Senate Bill 1410 which amended several Virginia anti-discrimination statutes to prohibit discrimination based on “military status.” For purposes of the various amendments, the term “military status” is defined as:

(i) an active military service member who performs full-time duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or a reserve component thereof, including the United States National Guard and the Virginia National Guard, (ii) a veteran who was an active military service member discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable, or (iii) a spouse or child of an active military service member or veteran, or an individual of any relationship to an active service member or veteran where the active service member or veteran provided more than one-half of the individual’s support for at least 180 days immediately preceding an alleged action that if proven would constitute unlawful discrimination under this chapter.

The amended statutes previously prohibited discrimination based on an individual’s “status as veteran.” The new law became effective immediately upon signing.

The amended laws include the Virginia Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation and employment. The new law also amended the Virginia Fair Housing Law which prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of dwellings by any person. It also prohibits discrimination by “any person or other entity, including any lending institution, whose business includes engaging in residential real estate-related transactions.” The term “residential real estate-related transaction” includes “the making or purchasing of loans or providing other financial assistance (i) for purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining a dwelling” or (ii) secured by residential real estate.”

The new law did not amend Section 6.2-501 of the Virginia Code which makes it unlawful for “any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, disability, or status as a veteran provided that the applicant has the capacity to contract.”

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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