Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 15. Local Government Personnel, Qualification for Office, Bonds, Dual Office Holding and Certain Local Government Officers
10/24/2021

Article 1. General Provisions for Certain Officers and Employees.

§ 15.2-1500. Organization of local government.

A. Every locality shall provide for all the governmental functions of the locality, including, without limitation, the organization of all departments, offices, boards, commissions and agencies of government, and the organizational structure thereof, which are necessary and the employment of the officers and other employees needed to carry out the functions of government.

B. Except as provided in § 15.2-2160 or Article 5.1 (§ 56-484.7:1 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 56, no locality shall establish any department, office, board, commission, agency or other governmental division or entity which has authority to offer telecommunications equipment, infrastructure, other than pole or tower attachments including antennas or conduit occupancy, or services, other than intragovernmental radio dispatch or paging systems shared by adjoining localities, for sale or lease to any person or entity other than (i) such locality's departments, offices, boards, commissions, agencies or other governmental divisions or entities or (ii) an adjoining locality's departments, offices, boards, commissions, agencies or other governmental divisions or entities, so long as any charges for such telecommunications equipment, infrastructure and services do not exceed the cost to the providing locality of providing such equipment, infrastructure or services. However, any town which is located adjacent to Exit 17 on Interstate 81 and which offered telecommunications services to the public on January 1, 1998, is hereby authorized to continue to offer such telecommunications services, but shall not acquire by eminent domain the facilities or other property of any telephone company or cable operator. Any locality may sell any telecommunications infrastructure, including related equipment, which such locality has constructed, and such locality may receive from the purchaser or purchasers, as full or partial consideration for the sale of such infrastructure, communications services to be used solely for internal use of the locality. The locality shall not be involved in any way in the promotion or marketing of services provided by any purchaser.

C. A locality, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority, may lease dark fiber. For purposes of this section, "dark fiber" means fiber optic cable that is not lighted by lasers or other electronic equipment. The locality, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority, shall not be involved in the promotion or marketing of the lessee as the provider of the services.

1997, c. 587; 1998, c. 906; 1999, c. 916; 2002, cc. 479, 489.

§ 15.2-1500.1. Employment discrimination prohibited; sexual orientation or gender identity.

A. As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Age" means being an individual who is at least 40 years of age.

"Military status" means status as (i) a member of the uniformed forces, as defined in 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(5), of the United States or a reserve component thereof named under 10 U.S.C. § 10101, (ii) a veteran as defined in 38 U.S.C. § 101(2), or (iii) a dependent as defined in 50 U.S.C. § 3911(4) except that the support provided by the service member to the individual shall have been provided 180 days immediately preceding an alleged action that if proven true would constitute unlawful discrimination under this section instead of 180 days immediately preceding an application for relief under 50 U.S.C. Chapter 50.

B. No department, office, board, commission, agency, or instrumentality of local government shall discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or military status.

C. The provisions of this section shall not prohibit (i) discrimination in employment on the basis of sex or age in those instances when sex or age is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment or (ii) providing preference in employment to veterans.

2020, cc. 1137, 1140; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 477, 478.

§ 15.2-1501. Designation of officers to perform certain duties.

Whenever it is not designated by general law or special act which officer or employee of the locality shall exercise any power or perform any duty conferred upon or required of the locality, then any such power shall be exercised or duty performed by the officer or employee of the locality so designated by the governing body. The governing body also may authorize the chief administrative officer to designate officers and employees to perform administrative duties and to exercise administrative powers.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1502. Employment of certain deputies and assistants; delegation of powers and duties.

A. Local government officers may employ, when duly authorized by the governing body, deputies and assistants to aid them in carrying out their powers and duties. The provisions of this section and § 15.2-1503 shall not be applicable to the constitutional offices of treasurer, commissioner of the revenue, sheriff, attorney for the Commonwealth and clerk of the circuit court.

B. "Deputy" means a person who is appointed to act as a substitute for his principal, in the name of the principal and in his behalf, in matters in which the principal himself may act; such person shall be a public officer. Members of governing bodies may not have or appoint deputies for themselves.

C. "Assistant" means a person who is not a public officer or deputy but who aids or helps a public officer.

D. Subject to the limitations and requirements of the preceding subsections, an officer of a locality may delegate, to a person reporting to him, his powers and duties unless it is some power or duty the exercise of which by another person is expressly forbidden by law or requires the exercise of judgment for the public welfare. However, such delegation shall not act to relieve the officer making such delegation of his legal obligations for the exercise of powers and performance of duties of his office.

Persons employed by virtue of this subsection shall be designated either deputy or assistant and shall take such oath and post such bond as may be required by ordinance.

1978, c. 264, §§ 15.1-19.4, 15.1-19.5; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1503. Tenure of officers and employees; suspension or removal.

A. All appointments of officers and hiring of other employees by a locality shall be without definite term, unless for temporary services not to exceed one year or except as otherwise provided by general law or special act.

B. Any officer or employee of a locality employed pursuant to subsection A of this section may be suspended or removed from office or employment in accordance with the provisions of §§ 24.2-230 through 24.2-238, if such sections are applicable. Otherwise, any such employee may be suspended or removed in accordance with procedure established by special act or by the governing body, if any.

C. In case of the absence or disability of any officer or employee, the governing body or other appointing power may designate some responsible person to temporarily perform the duties of the office.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1503.1. Background checks required for certain employees and licensees.

Any locality having a local ordinance adopted in accordance with § 19.2-389 (i) shall require any applicant who is offered or accepts employment with the locality, (ii) shall require any prospective licensee for any categories of license designated by ordinance, or (iii) may require any individual who is offered or accepts employment with a contractor or public service corporation that provides public transit services to the locality to submit to fingerprinting and to provide personal descriptive information to be forwarded along with the applicant's or licensee's fingerprints through the Central Criminal Records Exchange to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record information regarding such applicant or licensee. The locality may require such applicant or licensee to pay the cost of the fingerprinting or a criminal records check or both.

The Central Criminal Records Exchange, upon receipt of an applicant's or licensee's record or notification that no record exists, shall make a report to the county, city or town manager, or chief law-enforcement officer or his designee, who must belong to a governmental entity. If an applicant is denied employment or a licensee is denied a license because of the information appearing in his criminal history record, the locality shall notify the applicant or licensee that information obtained from the Central Criminal Records Exchange contributed to such denial. The information shall not be disseminated except as provided for in this section.

2003, c. 742; 2004, c. 160; 2010, cc. 189, 563.

§ 15.2-1504. Use of tobacco products by government employees.

No employee of or applicant for employment with a locality or any political subdivision of the Commonwealth shall be required, as a condition of employment, to smoke or use tobacco products on the job, or to abstain from smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of his employment, provided that this section shall not apply to those classes of employees to which § 27-40.1 or § 51.1-813 are applicable.

1989, c. 511, § 15.1-29.18; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1505. Employment based on residency prohibited for certain employees.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of general or special law, no locality, or any agency thereof, including school boards, or any local housing or redevelopment authority created pursuant to § 36-4, that receives any funds from the Commonwealth, shall condition employment or any feature of employment, including promotion, on the basis of residency in a particular locality.

This section shall not apply to (i) appointees of elected groups or individuals, (ii) officials and employees who by charter or other law serve at the will or pleasure of an appointing authority, (iii) deputies and executive assistants to the chief administrative officer of a locality, or (iv) agency heads, department heads or their equivalents or chief executive officers of government operations.

1993, c. 789, § 15.1-29.23; 1997, c. 587; 1999, c. 375; 2000, c. 276; 2002, c. 37.

§ 15.2-1505.1. Applicant preemployment information.

A locality may by ordinance, and in accordance with § 19.2-389, require applicants upon offer of employment with the locality to submit to fingerprinting and to provide personal descriptive information to be forwarded along with the applicant's fingerprints through the Central Criminal Records Exchange and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record information regarding such applicant. Such applicants shall, if required by ordinance, pay the cost of the fingerprinting or criminal records check or both.

The Central Criminal Records Exchange, upon receipt of an applicant's record or notification that no record exists, shall make a report to the chief administrative officer of the locality or his designee, who must belong to a governmental entity. In determining whether a criminal conviction directly relates to a position, the locality shall consider the following criteria: (i) the nature and seriousness of the crime; (ii) the relationship of the crime to the work to be performed in the position applied for; (iii) the extent to which the position applied for might offer an opportunity to engage in further criminal activity of the same type as that in which the person had been involved; (iv) the relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity or fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the position being sought; (v) the extent and nature of the person's past criminal activity; (vi) the age of the person at the time of the commission of the crime; (vii) the amount of time that has elapsed since the person's last involvement in the commission of a crime; (viii) the conduct and work activity of the person prior to and following the criminal activity; and (ix) evidence of the person's rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated or following release.

If an applicant is denied employment because of information appearing in his criminal history record, the locality shall notify the applicant that information obtained from the Central Criminal Records Exchange contributed to such denial. The information shall not be disseminated except as provided for in this section.

2003, c. 739.

§ 15.2-1505.2. Personnel policies related to the use of public property.

Every locality, with the exception of towns having a population of less than 3,500 that do not have a personnel policy, shall establish personnel policies covering the use of public property by officers and employees of the locality. Such policies shall address the use of telephones, computers, and related devices and peripheral equipment that are the property of the locality for (i) personal use, to the extent that such use interferes with the employees' productivity or work performance, or (ii) political activities. As used in this section, "political activities" shall have the same meaning as provided in § 15.2-1512.2.

2014, c. 405.

§ 15.2-1505.3. Localities prohibited from inquiring about arrests, charges, or convictions on employment applications; exceptions.

A. As used in this section, "conviction" means any adjudication that an individual committed a crime, any finding of guilt after a criminal trial by a court of competent jurisdiction, or any plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a criminal charge.

B. No locality shall request a prospective employee to complete an application for employment that includes a question inquiring whether the prospective employee has ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of any crime. This prohibition shall not apply to (i) law-enforcement agency positions or positions related to law-enforcement agencies, (ii) positions for employment by the local school board, (iii) sensitive positions, or (iv) any employment-related applications or questionnaires provided during or after a staff interview. For purposes of this subsection, "sensitive positions" shall include those positions:

1. Responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of citizens or the protection of critical infrastructure;

2. That have access to sensitive information, including access to federal tax information in approved exchange agreements with the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration; and

3. That are otherwise required by state or federal law to be designated as sensitive.

C. No locality shall inquire whether a prospective employee has ever been arrested for, or charged with, or convicted of any crime unless the inquiry takes place during or after a staff interview of the prospective employee.

D. Nothing in this section shall prevent a locality from considering information received during or after a staff interview pertaining to a prospective employee having been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of any crime.

2020, c. 422.

§ 15.2-1506. Establishment of grievance procedure, personnel system and uniform pay plan for employees.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, general or special, every locality which has more than fifteen employees shall have a grievance procedure for its employees that affords an immediate and fair method for the resolution of disputes which may arise between the public employer and its employees and a personnel system including a classification plan for service and a uniform pay plan for all employees excluding employees and deputies of division superintendents of schools.

Notwithstanding the provisions of any local charter, a locality may establish a personnel system for local administrative officials and employees based on merit and professional ability. Such system shall consist of rules and regulations that provide for the general administration of personnel matters, a classification plan for employees, a uniform pay plan, and a procedure for resolving grievances of employees as provided by general law.

1973, c. 256, § 15.1-7.1; 1974, cc. 260, 449; 1975, c. 176; 1976, c. 93; 1978, c. 845; 1979, c. 734; 1984, c. 746; 1985, c. 515; 1988, c. 290; 1991, c. 661; 1996, cc. 164, 869; 1997, c. 587; 2000, c. 363.

§ 15.2-1507. Provision of grievance procedure; training programs.

A. If a local governing body fails to adopt a grievance procedure required by § 15.2-1506 or fails to certify it as provided in this section, the local governing body shall be deemed to have adopted a grievance procedure that is consistent with the provisions of Chapter 30 (§ 2.2-3000 et seq.) of Title 2.2 and any regulations adopted pursuant thereto for so long as the locality remains in noncompliance. The locality shall provide its employees with copies of the applicable grievance procedure upon request. The term "grievance" as used herein shall not be interpreted to mean negotiations of wages, salaries, or fringe benefits.

Each grievance procedure, and each amendment thereto, in order to comply with this section, shall be certified in writing to be in compliance by the city, town, or county attorney, and the chief administrative officer of the locality, and such certification filed with the clerk of the circuit court having jurisdiction in the locality in which the procedure is to apply. Local government grievance procedures in effect as of July 1, 1991, shall remain in full force and effect for 90 days thereafter, unless certified and filed as provided above within a shorter time period.

Each grievance procedure shall include the following components and features:

1. Definition of grievance. A grievance shall be a complaint or dispute by an employee relating to his employment, including (i) disciplinary actions, including dismissals, disciplinary demotions, and suspensions, provided that dismissals shall be grievable whenever resulting from formal discipline or unsatisfactory job performance; (ii) the application of personnel policies, procedures, rules, and regulations, including the application of policies involving matters referred to in clause (iii) of subdivision 2; (iii) discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, political affiliation, age, disability, national origin, sex, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, or military status; and (iv) acts of retaliation as the result of the use of or participation in the grievance procedure or because the employee has complied with any law of the United States or of the Commonwealth, has reported any violation of such law to a governmental authority, has sought any change in law before the Congress of the United States or the General Assembly, or has reported an incidence of fraud, abuse, or gross mismanagement. For the purposes of clause (iv), there shall be a rebuttable presumption that increasing the penalty that is the subject of the grievance at any level of the grievance shall be an act of retaliation.

2. Local government responsibilities. Local governments shall retain the exclusive right to manage the affairs and operations of government. Accordingly, the following complaints are nongrievable: (i) establishment and revision of wages or salaries, position classification, or general benefits; (ii) work activity accepted by the employee as a condition of employment or work activity that may reasonably be expected to be a part of the job content; (iii) the contents of ordinances, statutes, or established personnel policies, procedures, rules, and regulations; (iv) failure to promote except where the employee can show that established promotional policies or procedures were not followed or applied fairly; (v) the methods, means, and personnel by which work activities are to be carried on; (vi) except where such action affects an employee who has been reinstated within the previous six months as the result of the final determination of a grievance, termination, layoff, demotion, or suspension from duties because of lack of work, reduction in work force, or job abolition; (vii) the hiring, promotion, transfer, assignment, and retention of employees within the local government; and (viii) the relief of employees from duties of the local government in emergencies. In any grievance brought under the exception to clause (vi), the action shall be upheld upon a showing by the local government that (a) there was a valid business reason for the action and (b) the employee was notified of the reason in writing prior to the effective date of the action.

3. Coverage of personnel.

a. Unless otherwise provided by law, all nonprobationary local government permanent full-time and part-time employees are eligible to file grievances with the following exceptions:

(1) Appointees of elected groups or individuals;

(2) Officials and employees who by charter or other law serve at the will or pleasure of an appointing authority;

(3) Deputies and executive assistants to the chief administrative officer of a locality;

(4) Agency heads or chief executive officers of government operations;

(5) Employees whose terms of employment are limited by law;

(6) Temporary, limited term, and seasonal employees;

(7) Law-enforcement officers as defined in Chapter 5 (§ 9.1-500 et seq.) of Title 9.1 whose grievance is subject to the provisions of Chapter 5 (§ 9.1-500 et seq.) of Title 9.1 and who have elected to proceed pursuant to those provisions in the resolution of their grievance, or any other employee electing to proceed pursuant to any other existing procedure in the resolution of his grievance; and

(8) Law-enforcement officers as defined in § 9.1-601 whose grievance is subject to the provisions of § 9.1-601 and relates to a binding disciplinary determination made by a law-enforcement civilian oversight body, except as permitted by subsection F of § 9.1-601.

b. Notwithstanding the exceptions set forth in subdivision a, local governments, at their sole discretion, may voluntarily include employees in any of the excepted categories within the coverage of their grievance procedures.

c. The chief administrative officer of each local government, or his designee, shall determine the officers and employees excluded from the grievance procedure, and shall be responsible for maintaining an up-to-date list of the affected positions.

4. Grievance procedure availability and coverage for employees of community services boards, redevelopment and housing authorities, and regional housing authorities. Employees of community services boards, redevelopment and housing authorities created pursuant to § 36-4, and regional housing authorities created pursuant to § 36-40 shall be included in (i) a local governing body's grievance procedure or personnel system, if agreed to by the department, board, or authority and the locality or (ii) a grievance procedure established and administered by the department, board, or authority that is consistent with the provisions of Chapter 30 (§ 2.2-3000 et seq.) of Title 2.2 and any regulations promulgated pursuant thereto. If a department, board, or authority fails to establish a grievance procedure pursuant to clause (i) or (ii), it shall be deemed to have adopted a grievance procedure that is consistent with the provisions of Chapter 30 (§ 2.2-3000 et seq.) of Title 2.2 and any regulations adopted pursuant thereto for so long as it remains in noncompliance.

5. General requirements for procedures.

a. Each grievance procedure shall include not more than four steps for airing complaints at successively higher levels of local government management, and a final step providing for a panel hearing or a hearing before an administrative hearing officer upon the agreement of both parties.

b. Grievance procedures shall prescribe reasonable and specific time limitations for the grievant to submit an initial complaint and to appeal each decision through the steps of the grievance procedure.

c. Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit a local government from granting its employees rights greater than those contained herein, provided that such grant does not exceed or violate the general law or public policy of the Commonwealth.

6. Time periods.

a. It is intended that speedy attention to employee grievances be promoted, consistent with the ability of the parties to prepare for a fair consideration of the issues of concern.

b. The time for submitting an initial complaint shall not be less than 20 calendar days after the event giving rise to the grievance, but local governments may, at their option, allow a longer time period.

c. Limits for steps after initial presentation of grievance shall be the same or greater for the grievant than the time that is allowed for local government response in each comparable situation.

d. Time frames may be extended by mutual agreement of the local government and the grievant.

7. Compliance.

a. After the initial filing of a written grievance, failure of either party to comply with all substantial procedural requirements of the grievance procedure, including the panel or administrative hearing, without just cause shall result in a decision in favor of the other party on any grievable issue, provided the party not in compliance fails to correct the noncompliance within five workdays of receipt of written notification by the other party of the compliance violation. Such written notification by the grievant shall be made to the chief administrative officer, or his designee.

b. The chief administrative officer, or his designee, at his option, may require a clear written explanation of the basis for just cause extensions or exceptions. The chief administrative officer, or his designee, shall determine compliance issues. Compliance determinations made by the chief administrative officer shall be subject to judicial review by filing petition with the circuit court within 30 days of the compliance determination.

8. Management steps.

a. The first step shall provide for an informal, initial processing of employee complaints by the immediate supervisor through a nonwritten, discussion format.

b. Management steps shall provide for a review with higher levels of local government authority following the employee's reduction to writing of the grievance and the relief requested on forms supplied by the local government. Personal face-to-face meetings are required at all of these steps.

c. With the exception of the final management step, the only persons who may normally be present in the management step meetings are the grievant, the appropriate local government official at the level at which the grievance is being heard, and appropriate witnesses for each side. Witnesses shall be present only while actually providing testimony. At the final management step, the grievant, at his option, may have present a representative of his choice. If the grievant is represented by legal counsel, local government likewise has the option of being represented by counsel.

9. Qualification for panel or administrative hearing.

a. Decisions regarding grievability and access to the procedure shall be made by the chief administrative officer of the local government, or his designee, at any time prior to the panel hearing, at the request of the local government or grievant, within 10 calendar days of the request. No city, town, or county attorney, or attorney for the Commonwealth, shall be authorized to decide the question of grievability. A copy of the ruling shall be sent to the grievant. Decisions of the chief administrative officer of the local government, or his designee, may be appealed to the circuit court having jurisdiction in the locality in which the grievant is employed for a hearing on the issue of whether the grievance qualifies for a panel hearing. Proceedings for review of the decision of the chief administrative officer or his designee shall be instituted by the grievant by filing a notice of appeal with the chief administrative officer within 10 calendar days from the date of receipt of the decision and giving a copy thereof to all other parties. Within 10 calendar days thereafter, the chief administrative officer or his designee shall transmit to the clerk of the court to which the appeal is taken: a copy of the decision of the chief administrative officer, a copy of the notice of appeal, and the exhibits. A list of the evidence furnished to the court shall also be furnished to the grievant. The failure of the chief administrative officer or his designee to transmit the record shall not prejudice the rights of the grievant. The court, on motion of the grievant, may issue a writ of certiorari requiring the chief administrative officer to transmit the record on or before a certain date.

b. Within 30 days of receipt of such records by the clerk, the court, sitting without a jury, shall hear the appeal on the record transmitted by the chief administrative officer or his designee and such additional evidence as may be necessary to resolve any controversy as to the correctness of the record. The court, in its discretion, may receive such other evidence as the ends of justice require. The court may affirm the decision of the chief administrative officer or his designee, or may reverse or modify the decision. The decision of the court shall be rendered no later than the fifteenth day from the date of the conclusion of the hearing. The decision of the court is final and is not appealable.

10. Final hearings.

a. Qualifying grievances shall advance to either a panel hearing or a hearing before an administrative hearing officer, as set forth in the locality's grievance procedure, as described below:

(1) If the grievance procedure adopted by the local governing body provides that the final step shall be an impartial panel hearing, the panel may, with the exception of those local governments covered by subdivision a (2), consist of one member appointed by the grievant, one member appointed by the agency head and a third member selected by the first two. In the event that agreement cannot be reached as to the final panel member, the chief judge of the circuit court of the jurisdiction wherein the dispute arose shall select the third panel member. The panel shall not be composed of any persons having direct involvement with the grievance being heard by the panel, or with the complaint or dispute giving rise to the grievance. Managers who are in a direct line of supervision of a grievant, persons residing in the same household as the grievant and the following relatives of a participant in the grievance process or a participant's spouse are prohibited from serving as panel members: spouse, parent, child, descendants of a child, sibling, niece, nephew and first cousin. No attorney having direct involvement with the subject matter of the grievance, nor a partner, associate, employee or co-employee of the attorney shall serve as a panel member.

(2) If the grievance procedure adopted by the local governing body provides for the final step to be an impartial panel hearing, local governments may retain the panel composition method previously approved by the Department of Human Resource Management and in effect as of the enactment of this statute. Modifications to the panel composition method shall be permitted with regard to the size of the panel and the terms of office for panel members, so long as the basic integrity and independence of panels are maintained. As used in this section, the term "panel" shall include all bodies designated and authorized to make final and binding decisions.

(3) When a local government elects to use an administrative hearing officer rather than a three-person panel for the final step in the grievance procedure, the administrative hearing officer shall be appointed by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The appointment shall be made from the list of administrative hearing officers maintained by the Executive Secretary pursuant to § 2.2-4024 and shall be made from the appropriate geographical region on a rotating basis. In the alternative, the local government may request the appointment of an administrative hearing officer from the Department of Human Resource Management. If a local government elects to use an administrative hearing officer, it shall bear the expense of such officer's services.

(4) When the local government uses a panel in the final step of the procedure, there shall be a chairperson of the panel and, when panels are composed of three persons (one each selected by the respective parties and the third from an impartial source), the third member shall be the chairperson.

(5) Both the grievant and the respondent may call upon appropriate witnesses and be represented by legal counsel or other representatives at the hearing. Such representatives may examine, cross-examine, question and present evidence on behalf of the grievant or respondent before the panel or hearing officer without being in violation of the provisions of § 54.1-3904.

(6) The decision of the panel or hearing officer shall be final and binding and shall be consistent with provisions of law and written policy.

(7) The question of whether the relief granted by a panel or hearing officer is consistent with written policy shall be determined by the chief administrative officer of the local government, or his designee, unless such person has a direct personal involvement with the event or events giving rise to the grievance, in which case the decision shall be made by the attorney for the Commonwealth of the jurisdiction in which the grievance is pending.

b. Rules for panel and administrative hearings.

Unless otherwise provided by law, local governments shall adopt rules for the conduct of panel or administrative hearings as a part of their grievance procedures, or shall adopt separate rules for such hearings. Rules that are promulgated shall include the following provisions:

(1) That neither the panels nor the hearing officer have authority to formulate policies or procedures or to alter existing policies or procedures;

(2) That panels and the hearing officer have the discretion to determine the propriety of attendance at the hearing of persons not having a direct interest in the hearing, and, at the request of either party, the hearing shall be private;

(3) That the local government provide the panel or hearing officer with copies of the grievance record prior to the hearing, and provide the grievant with a list of the documents furnished to the panel or hearing officer, and the grievant and his attorney, at least 10 days prior to the scheduled hearing, shall be allowed access to and copies of all relevant files intended to be used in the grievance proceeding;

(4) That panels and hearing officers have the authority to determine the admissibility of evidence without regard to the burden of proof, or the order of presentation of evidence, so long as a full and equal opportunity is afforded to all parties for the presentation of their evidence;

(5) That all evidence be presented in the presence of the panel or hearing officer and the parties, except by mutual consent of the parties;

(6) That documents, exhibits and lists of witnesses be exchanged between the parties or hearing officer in advance of the hearing;

(7) That the majority decision of the panel or the decision of the hearing officer, acting within the scope of its or his authority, be final, subject to existing policies, procedures and law;

(8) That the panel or hearing officer's decision be provided within a specified time to all parties; and

(9) Such other provisions as may facilitate fair and expeditious hearings, with the understanding that the hearings are not intended to be conducted like proceedings in courts, and that rules of evidence do not necessarily apply.

11. Implementation of final hearing decisions.

Either party may petition the circuit court having jurisdiction in the locality in which the grievant is employed for an order requiring implementation of the hearing decision.

B. Notwithstanding the contrary provisions of this section, a final hearing decision rendered under the provisions of this section that would result in the reinstatement of any employee of a sheriff's office who has been terminated for cause may be reviewed by the circuit court for the locality upon the petition of the locality. The review of the circuit court shall be limited to the question of whether the decision of the panel or hearing officer was consistent with provisions of law and written policy.

1978, c. 845, § 15.1-7.2; 1985, c. 515; 1988, c. 290; 1989, c. 254; 1991, c. 661; 1995, cc. 770, 818; 1996, cc. 164, 440, 579, 869; 1997, c. 587; 2000, cc. 947, 1006; 2001, c. 589; 2005, c. 714; 2009, c. 736; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2020, cc. 1137, 1140; 2020, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 29, 30; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 477, 478.

§ 15.2-1507.1. Appointment of standing panel in certain counties.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 15.2-1507, in any county with the county manager form of government, the final step of its grievance procedure shall provide for a hearing before an impartial panel consisting of one member appointed by the grievant, one member appointed by the county manager or his designee, and a third member appointed in a manner determined by the board of supervisors.

2001, c. 601.

§ 15.2-1508. Bonuses for employees of local governments.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, general or special, the governing body of any locality may provide for payment of monetary bonuses to its officers and employees. The payment of a bonus shall be authorized by ordinance.

1985, c. 142, § 15.1-7.4; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 204.

§ 15.2-1508.1. Traveling expenses on business of town, city or county.

Any person traveling on business of any locality except as hereinafter provided, wherein no part of the cost is borne by the Commonwealth may be reimbursed by such locality on a basis established by the governing body of such locality; however, the rate of reimbursement per mile for private transportation shall not exceed the standard rate deductible as a business expense pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code and regulations promulgated thereunder.

Code 1950, § 14-5.2; 1954, c. 709; 1956, c. 214; 1960, c. 198; 1962, c. 441; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-7; 1977, c. 517; 1996, c. 700; 1998, c. 872.

§ 15.2-1508.2. Same; where Commonwealth bears portion of expenses.

Any person traveling on business of any locality wherein the Commonwealth is required to bear a portion of the expenses may be reimbursed by any such locality on a basis not in excess of that provided in § 2.2-2823 but the portion to be borne by the Commonwealth shall be subject to the approval of the State Compensation Board.

Code 1950, § 14-5.3; 1954, c. 709; 1956, c. 214; 1962, c. 501; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-8; 1998, c. 872.

§ 15.2-1508.3. Governing bodies of certain cities and counties may supplement salaries and reimburse traveling expenses of employees of state and local health departments.

The Counties of Arlington, Chesterfield, Clarke, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William may, in the discretion of their governing bodies, pay to persons employed by the State Department of Health, within such counties, in addition to the salaries as may be paid to such employees by the State Board of Health, such sum or sums of money as they may deem expedient.

In addition to supplementing the salaries of such employees as provided herein such county may reimburse such employees who travel on business of any such county, who are required to bear a portion of such travel expense in excess of the amount allowed by § 2.2-2823, from the funds of such county, upon such basis and in such manner as its governing body may prescribe.

1964, c. 321, § 14.1-11.1; 1970, c. 142; 1972, c. 314; 1973, c. 415; 1976, c. 688; 1981, c. 206; 1985, c. 80; 1991, c. 27; 1998, c. 872; 2004, c. 157.

§ 15.2-1508.4. Certain counties and cities may supplement salaries and reimburse traveling expenses of employees of state mental health clinics.

The Counties of Arlington, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William, or the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park, or Roanoke may, in the discretion of its governing body, pay to persons employed in state mental health clinics, within such county, in addition to the salaries as may be paid to such employees by the Commonwealth, such sum or sums of money as it may deem expedient.

In addition to supplementing the salaries of such employees as provided herein, such county may reimburse such employees who travel on business of any such county, who are required to bear a portion of such travel expenses in excess of the amount allowed by § 2.2-2823, from the funds of such county, upon such basis and in such manner as its governing body may prescribe.

1966, c. 95, § 14.1-11.2; 1998, c. 872; 2007, c. 813.

§ 15.2-1509. Preferences for veterans in local government employment.

Consistent with the requirements and obligations to protected classes under federal or state law, any locality shall take into consideration or give preference to an individual's status as an honorably discharged veteran of the armed forces of the United States in its employment hiring policies and practices, provided that such veteran meets all of the knowledge, skills and eligibility requirements for the available position. Additional consideration shall also be given to veterans who have a service connected disability rating fixed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Veterans" as used in this section refers to the same class as included in § 2.2-2903 with regard to the state service.

1988, c. 648, § 15.1-7.5; 1997, c. 587; 2005, c. 413.

§ 15.2-1510. Retirement systems.

Any locality may establish a system for the retirement of injured or superannuated officers and employees; the members of the local police and fire departments; the public school teachers and other employees of the local school board; and the judges, clerks, deputy clerks and other employees of the judicial system; or any of them; and may establish a fund or funds for the payment of retirement allowances by making appropriations out of the local treasury, by levying a special tax for the benefit of such fund or funds, by requiring contributions payable from time to time from such officers, employees, members of police and fire departments, teachers, judges, clerks, deputy clerks and other employees of the judicial system, or by any combination of such methods, or by any other method not prohibited by law; provided that the total annual payments into such fund or funds shall be sufficient on sound actuarial principles for the payment of such retirement allowances therefrom. The benefits accrued or accruing to any person under such system shall not be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment or any other process whatsoever nor shall any assignment of such benefits be enforceable in any court.

Code 1950, § 15-77.13; 1958, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-849; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1510.1. Public announcement of severance packages for certain officials.

Severance benefits provided to any departing official appointed by a local governing body or school board shall be publicly announced by the local governing body or school board, respectively, prior to such departure.

2006, c. 254; 2007, c. 257.

§ 15.2-1511. Allowances to injured officials and employees and their dependents.

The governing body of any locality is authorized in its discretion to make allowances by appropriation of funds, payable in monthly or semimonthly installments, for the relief of any of its officials, employees, police officers, firefighters, sheriffs or deputy sheriffs, town sergeants and town deputy sergeants, or their dependents, who suffer injury or death as defined in Title 65.2, whether such injury was suffered or death occurs before or after June 29, 1948 (which date is the effective date of the section). The allowance shall not exceed the salary or wage being paid such official, employee, police officer, firefighter, sheriff or deputy sheriff, town sergeants and town deputy sergeants, at the time of such injury or death, and the payment of the allowance shall not extend beyond the period of disability resulting from such injury. In case death results from the injury, the allowance may be made for the dependents as defined in Title 65.2. In localities which have established retirement or pension systems for injured, retired or superannuated officials, employees, members of police or fire departments, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, town sergeants and deputy sergeants, or for the dependents of those killed in line of duty, the agencies provided for the administration of such systems shall determine the existence of such injury or cause of death before any appropriation to pay such allowance is made and shall determine the extent of and period of disability resulting from such injury and the cause in case of death. All sums paid to any such official, employee, police officer, firefighter, sheriff or deputy sheriff, town sergeants and deputy sergeants, as compensation under Title 65.2 and all sums paid to the dependents of such official, employee, police officer, firefighter, sheriff or deputy sheriff, town sergeant and deputy sergeant, if he is killed, and all sums paid under any retirement or pension system shall be deducted from the allowance made under this section in such installments as the agency determines. If the agency determines that any official, employee, police officer, firefighter, sheriff or deputy sheriff, town sergeant and deputy sergeant, who suffered injury in the line of duty is engaged or is able to engage in a gainful occupation, then the allowance shall be reduced by the agency to an amount which, together with the amount earnable by him, equals the allowance. Should the earning capacity of the official, employee, police officer, firefighter, sheriff or deputy sheriff, town sergeant and deputy sergeant, be later changed, such allowance may be further modified, up or down, provided the new allowance shall not exceed the amount of the allowance originally made nor an amount which, when added to the amount earnable by him, exceeds such allowance.

The death of, or any condition or impairment of health of, any member of a local police department, or of a sheriff or deputy sheriff, caused by hypertension or heart disease resulting in total or partial disability shall be presumed to have been suffered in the line of duty unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence; provided that prior to making any claim based upon such presumption for retirement, sickness or other benefits on account of such death or total or partial disability, such member, sheriff, or deputy sheriff, shall have been found free from hypertension or heart disease, as the case may be, by a physical examination which shall include such appropriate laboratory and other diagnostic studies as such governing body shall prescribe and which shall have been conducted by physicians whose qualifications shall have been prescribed by such governing body. In the case of a claim for disability, that any such member, sheriff, or deputy sheriff, shall, if requested by such governing body or its authorized representative, submit himself to physical examination by any physician designated by such governing body, such examination to include such tests or studies as may reasonably be prescribed by the physician so designated. Such member, sheriff or deputy sheriff, or claimant shall have the right to have present at such examination, at his own expense, any qualified physician he may designate. In the case of a claim for death benefits, any person entitled to make a claim for such benefits, claiming that such person's death was suffered in the line of duty, shall submit the body of the deceased to a postmortem examination to be performed by the medical examiner for the county, city or town appointed under § 32.1-282.

Code 1950, § 15-555; 1950, p. 315; 1954, c. 246; 1960, c. 487; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-134; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 155; 1973, c. 499; 1976, c. 769; 1977, c. 326; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1511.01. Allowances to injured deputy sheriffs.

A. In addition to the allowances provided in § 15.2-1511, any deputy sheriff who suffers injury as defined in Title 65.2 and whose allowance as provided in § 15.2-1511 is less than 100 percent of his regular compensation shall be entitled to use any accrued vacation, compensatory, or sick leave to supplement the allowance so as to receive 100 percent of his regular compensation. In no case shall a deputy sheriff use such accrued leave so as to receive more than 100 percent of his regular compensation.

B. The governing body of a locality shall continue to pay the employer's share of the cost of health insurance to the same extent paid for other employees of the locality covered by the health insurance plan for a deputy sheriff who participates in the employer-provided health plan who suffers a compensable injury as defined under Title 65.2 so long as the deputy sheriff remains employed by the locality.

2008, cc. 335, 766.

§ 15.2-1511.1. Written benefit information to certain employees.

If a local employee develops a life-threatening health condition, the local employer shall provide such employee written notification of all relevant benefit options and programs available to him, within 10 days of the date that the employer was given notice of the serious health condition by the employee or his agent, unless such information is otherwise provided annually by the local employer. The employer shall provide appropriate forms to the employee so that the employee can communicate any election of benefit options to the employer in writing on the forms.

2007, c. 333.

§ 15.2-1512. Oath and bond.

Before entering upon the duties of his office, the person appointed or employed by the governing body, or its delegated representative, (i) shall take the oath of office if required by general law, special act or the governing body, (ii) shall give a bond before the clerk of the circuit court serving such governing body, if required by general law, special act or the governing body, and (iii) shall furnish surety to be approved by such clerk in an amount to be fixed by the governing body, if required by general law, special act or the governing body. The premium for such bond shall be paid by the governing body out of its general fund. The form of oath of office is that prescribed by § 49-1.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1512.1. Disposition of property received by subdivisions as result of conversion of mutual insurance company to stock corporation.

The governing body of each locality that receives cash, shares of stock, or both, as a result of the conversion of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Virginia, doing business as Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield (hereafter referred to as Trigon), from a mutual insurance company to a stock corporation known as Trigon Healthcare, Inc., by reason of its school division's status as a present or former group policyholder of Trigon shall, by appropriate ordinance or resolution, authorize the treasurer of such locality to create two separate funds upon the books of the locality, as hereinafter described. Upon the enactment or adoption of such ordinance or resolution, the treasurer of the locality shall place all such stock, including any proceeds derived from the sale or other conveyance of any such stock, and cash, into these separate funds. The stock or proceeds and cash shall be divided equally between the two separate funds set forth in subsections A and B of this section; however, (i) the local governing body may place a greater proportion or all of the stock or proceeds and cash in the fund described in subsection A, with the consent of the school board and (ii) if on or before January 1, 1997, a school board has requested and the local governing body has approved the allocation of the proceeds from the sale of its stock for a school construction or renovation project, the remainder of such proceeds shall be used to create a fund to offset health insurance premium increases incurred by the present and future employees of the school board and governing body.

A. The first fund shall be known as the "County/City of _________________ Schools Health Insurance Premium Fund." All principal placed into this fund, together with all income arising from or attributable to the fund, shall be used solely to offset health insurance premium expenses incurred by or on behalf of present and future employees of the school division of the locality; however, the governing body of the locality may use a portion of the principal placed into the fund, a portion of the income arising from or attributable to the fund, or both, to compensate present or future retired employees of the school division of the locality for (i) health insurance premium expenses payable by the retired employees, (ii) health insurance premium expenses paid for by such retired employees for periods prior to July 1, 1997, during which the retired employees were insured under a health insurance policy through the school division of the locality as a group policyholder of Trigon, or (iii) both (i) and (ii), in such amounts, if any, as the governing body shall determine appropriate. No disbursement from the fund may be made except upon specific appropriation by the governing body in accordance with applicable law.

B. The second fund, if any, shall be known as the "County/City of _________________ School Construction, Renovation, Maintenance, Capital Outlay, and Debt Service Fund." All principal placed into this fund, together with all income arising from or attributable to the fund, shall be used solely for the purposes of school construction, school renovation, major school maintenance, capital outlay, and debt service in the public schools of the locality. No disbursement from this fund may be made except upon specific appropriation by the governing body in accordance with applicable law.

C. All stock or proceeds and cash placed into separate funds pursuant to the provisions of this act, including all income arising from or attributable to such funds, shall be deemed public funds of the locality and shall be subject to all limitations upon deposit and investment provided by general law, including without limitation the Virginia Security for Public Deposits Act (§ 2.2-4400 et seq.). Income, dividends, distributions and sale proceeds accruing to the separate funds shall be retained in the funds and may be expended only in accordance with the terms of this act.

1997, cc. 803, 888, 891, § 15.1-52.1; 1998, c. 256; 2000, cc. 66, 657; 2013, c. 687.

§ 15.2-1512.2. Political activities of employees of localities, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and law-enforcement officers and certain other officers and employees.

A. For the purposes of this section:

"Emergency medical services personnel" means any person who is employed within the fire department or public safety department of a locality whose primary responsibility is the provision of emergency medical care to the sick or injured, using either basic or advanced techniques. Emergency medical services personnel may also provide fire protection services and assist in the enforcement of the fire prevention code.

"Firefighter" means any person who is employed within the fire department or public safety department of a locality whose primary responsibility is the prevention or extinguishment of fires, the protection of life and property, or the enforcement of local or state fire prevention codes or laws pertaining to the prevention or control of fires.

"Law-enforcement officer" means any person who is employed within the police department, bureau, or force of any locality, including the sheriff's department of any city or county, and who is authorized by law to make arrests.

"Locality" means counties, cities, towns, authorities, or special districts.

"Political campaign" means activities engaged in for the purpose of promoting a political issue, for influencing the outcome of an election for local or state office, or for influencing the outcome of a referendum or special election.

"Political candidate" means any person who has made known his or her intention to seek, or campaign for, local or state office in a general, primary, or special election.

"Political party" means any party, organization, or group having as its purpose the promotion of political candidates or political campaigns.

B. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, general or special, no locality shall prohibit an employee of the locality, including firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, or law-enforcement officers within its employment, or deputies, appointees, and employees of local constitutional officers as defined in § 15.2-1600, from participating in political activities while these employees are off duty, out of uniform and not on the premises of their employment with the locality.

C. For purposes of this section, the term "political activities" includes, but is not limited to, voting; registering to vote; soliciting votes or endorsements on behalf of a political candidate or political campaign; expressing opinions, privately or publicly, on political subjects and candidates; displaying a political picture, sign, sticker, badge, or button; participating in the activities of, or contributing financially to, a political party, candidate, or campaign or an organization that supports a political candidate or campaign; attending or participating in a political convention, caucus, rally, or other political gathering; initiating, circulating, or signing a political petition; engaging in fund-raising activities for any political party, candidate, or campaign; acting as a recorder, watcher, challenger, or similar officer at the polls on behalf of a political party, candidate, or campaign; or becoming a political candidate.

D. Employees of a locality, including firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, law-enforcement officers, and other employees specified in subsection B are prohibited from using their official authority to coerce or attempt to coerce a subordinate employee to pay, lend, or contribute anything of value to a political party, candidate, or campaign, or to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of that person's political affiliations or political activities, except as such affiliation or activity may be established by law as disqualification for employment.

E. Employees of a locality, including firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, law-enforcement officers, and other employees specified in subsection B are prohibited from discriminating in the provision of public services, including but not limited to firefighting, emergency medical, and law-enforcement services, or responding to requests for such services, on the basis of the political affiliations or political activities of the person or organization for which such services are provided or requested.

F. Employees of a locality, including firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, law-enforcement officers, and other employees specified in subsection B are prohibited from suggesting or implying that a locality has officially endorsed a political party, candidate, or campaign.

2000, c. 791; 2002, c. 886; 2009, c. 306; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 15.2-1512.3. Telecommuting by local government employees.

Each local government is authorized and encouraged to establish and implement a telecommuting policy under which eligible employees of such local government may telecommute to the maximum extent possible without diminished employee performance or service delivery.

2001, c. 405.

§ 15.2-1512.4. Rights of local employees to contact elected officials.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit or otherwise restrict the right of any local employee to express opinions to state or local elected officials on matters of public concern, nor shall a local employee be subject to acts of retaliation because the employee has expressed such opinions.

For the purposes of this section, "matters of public concern" means those matters of interest to the community as a whole, whether for social, political, or other reasons, and shall include discussions that disclose any (i) evidence of corruption, impropriety, or other malfeasance on the part of government officials; (ii) violations of law; or (iii) incidence of fraud, abuse, or gross mismanagement.

2006, c. 597.

§ 15.2-1512.5. Authority of local government employees to issue summonses for misdemeanor violations of certain local ordinances.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a locality may appoint and train local government employees to enforce local ordinances within the scope of the employee's employment by issuing summonses for misdemeanor violations of ordinances, except those offenses listed in Title 18.2 or Chapter 8 (§ 46.2-800 et seq.) of Title 46.2 or those violations of local ordinances for offenses that are substantially similar to such offenses. Such employees shall not have the power and authority of constables at common law; their power shall be limited to issuing such summonses in their locality.

2020, c. 144.