Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 2.2. Administration of Government
Chapter 5. Department of Law

Article 4. Division of Human Rights.

§ 2.2-520. Office of Civil Rights created; duties.

A. It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide for equal opportunities throughout the Commonwealth to all its citizens, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, familial status, marital status, or status as a veteran and, to that end, to prohibit discriminatory practices with respect to employment, places of public accommodation, including educational institutions, and real estate transactions by any person or group of persons, including state and local law-enforcement agencies, in order that the peace, health, safety, prosperity, and general welfare of all the inhabitants of the Commonwealth be protected and ensured.

B. To carry out this policy, there is created in the Department of Law an Office of Civil Rights (the Office) to assist in the prevention of and relief from alleged unlawful discriminatory practices. The Office exists to investigate and bring actions to combat discrimination based on the protected classes listed in subsection A.

C. The powers and duties of the Office shall be to:

1. Receive, investigate, seek to conciliate, refer to another agency, hold hearings pursuant to the Virginia Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.), and make findings and recommendations upon complaints alleging unlawful discriminatory practices, including complaints alleging a pattern and practice of unlawful discriminatory practices, pursuant to the Virginia Human Rights Act (§ 2.2-3900 et seq.);

2. Adopt, promulgate, amend, and rescind regulations consistent with this article and the provisions of the Virginia Human Rights Act (§ 2.2-3900 et seq.) pursuant to the Virginia Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.). However, the Office shall not have the authority to adopt regulations on a substantive matter when another state agency is authorized to adopt such regulations;

3. Inquire into incidents that may constitute unlawful acts of discrimination or unfounded charges of unlawful discrimination under state or federal law and take such action within the Office's authority designed to prevent such acts;

4. Seek through appropriate enforcement authorities, prevention of or relief from an alleged unlawful discriminatory practice;

5. Appoint and compensate qualified hearing officers from the list of hearing officers maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia;

6. Promote creation of local commissions to aid in effectuating the policies of this article and to enter into cooperative worksharing or other agreements with federal agencies or local commissions, including the deferral of complaints of discrimination to federal agencies or local commissions;

7. Make studies and appoint advisory councils to effectuate the purposes and policies of the article and to make the results thereof available to the public;

8. Accept public grants or private gifts, bequests, or other payments, as appropriate;

9. Receive complaints, seek to conciliate, and inquire into incidents that may constitute an unlawful pattern or practice of conduct by law-enforcement officers that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the laws of the United States and the Commonwealth and take such action within the Office's authority, including requesting the Attorney General to issue a civil investigative demand pursuant to subsection D of § 2.2-511.1, designed to prevent such conduct; and

10. Furnish technical assistance upon request of persons subject to this article to further comply with the article or an order issued thereunder.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-720; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2634; 2004, c. 58; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2020, c. 1140; 2020, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 18, 19; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 196.

§ 2.2-521. Procedure for issuance of subpoena duces tecum.

Whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that any person has engaged in or is engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practice, he may apply to the judge of the circuit court of the jurisdiction in which the respondent resides or is doing business for a subpoena duces tecum against any person refusing to produce such data and information. The judge of the court, upon good cause shown, may cause the subpoena to be issued. Any person failing to comply with such subpoena shall be subject to punishment for contempt by the court issuing the subpoena. For purposes of this section, "person" includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, legal representative, mutual company, joint stock company, trust, unincorporated organization, employee, employer, employment agency, labor organization, joint labor-management committee, or an agent thereof.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-721; 2000, c. 64; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2635; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 2.2-522. Filing with the Office deemed filing with other state agencies.

Filing of a written complaint with the Office shall be deemed filing with any state agency for the purpose of complying with any time limitation on the filing of a complaint, provided the time limit for filing with the other agency has not expired. The time limit for filing with other agencies shall be tolled while the Office is either investigating the complaint or making a decision to refer it. Complaints under this article shall be filed with the Office within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory event.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-722; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2636; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 196.

§ 2.2-523. Confidentiality of information; penalty.

A. The Office shall not make public, prior to a public hearing pursuant to § 2.2-520, investigative notes and other correspondence and information furnished to the Office in confidence with respect to an investigation or conciliation process involving an alleged unlawful discriminatory practice.

B. Nothing in this section, however, shall prohibit the distribution of information taken from inactive reports in a form that does not reveal the identity of the parties involved or other persons supplying information.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-723; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2637; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 196.

§ 2.2-524. Powers of local commissions.

A local human rights or human relations commission established prior to the effective date of this article or any predecessor statute may exercise any such additional powers as may have been granted heretofore to that commission pursuant to applicable provisions of §§ 15.2-725, 15.2-853, and 15.2-854 or municipal charter provisions.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-724; 2000, c. 933; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2638; 2012, cc. 803, 835.