Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
10/25/2021

Virginia Human Rights Act

§ 2.2-3900. Short title; declaration of policy

A. This chapter shall be known and cited as the Virginia Human Rights Act.

B. It is the policy of the Commonwealth to:

1. Safeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, or disability in places of public accommodation, including educational institutions and in real estate transactions;

2. Safeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or military status;

3. Preserve the public safety, health, and general welfare;

4. Further the interests, rights, and privileges of individuals within the Commonwealth; and

5. Protect citizens of the Commonwealth against unfounded charges of unlawful discrimination.

1987, c. 581, §§ 2.1-714, 2.1-715; 1997, c. 404; 2001, c. 844; 2020, cc. 1137, 1140; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 477, 478.

§ 2.2-3901. Definitions

A. The terms "because of sex or gender" or "on the basis of sex or gender" or terms of similar import when used in reference to discrimination in the Code and acts of the General Assembly include because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including lactation. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all purposes as persons not so affected but similar in their abilities or disabilities.

B. The term "gender identity," when used in reference to discrimination in the Code and acts of the General Assembly, means the gender-related identity, appearance, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth.

C. The term "sexual orientation," when used in reference to discrimination in the Code and acts of the General Assembly, means a person's actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality.

D. The terms "because of race" or "on the basis of race" or terms of similar import when used in reference to discrimination in the Code and acts of the General Assembly include because of or on the basis of traits historically associated with race, including hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.

E. As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Lactation" means a condition that may result in the feeding of a child directly from the breast or the expressing of milk from the breast.

"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.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-716; 1991, c. 457; 1997, c. 404; 2001, c. 844; 2005, c. 839; 2020, cc. 107, 152, 1137, 1138, 1139, 1140; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 477, 478.

§ 2.2-3902. Construction of chapter; other programs to aid persons with disabilities, minors, and the elderly

The provisions of this chapter shall be construed liberally for the accomplishment of its policies.

Conduct that violates any Virginia or federal statute or regulation governing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age, military status, disability, or national origin is an unlawful discriminatory practice under this chapter.

Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit or alter any program, service, facility, school, or privilege that is afforded, oriented, or restricted to a person because of disability or age from continuing to habilitate, rehabilitate, or accommodate that person.

In addition, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect any governmental program, law or activity differentiating between persons on the basis of age over the age of 18 years (i) where the differentiation is reasonably necessary to normal operation or the activity is based upon reasonable factors other than age or (ii) where the program, law or activity constitutes a legitimate exercise of powers of the Commonwealth for the general health, safety and welfare of the population at large.

Complaints filed with the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Law (the Office) in accordance with § 2.2-520 alleging unlawful discriminatory practice under a Virginia statute that is enforced by a Virginia agency shall be referred to that agency. The Office may investigate complaints alleging an unlawful discriminatory practice under a federal statute or regulation and attempt to resolve it through conciliation. Unsolved complaints shall thereafter be referred to the federal agency with jurisdiction over the complaint. Upon such referral, the Office shall have no further jurisdiction over the complaint. The Office shall have no jurisdiction over any complaint filed under a local ordinance adopted pursuant to § 15.2-965.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-717; 1991, c. 457; 1997, c. 404; 2000, c. 933; 2001, c. 844; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2020, cc. 1137, 1140; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 12, 196, 477, 478.

§ 2.2-3903. Repealed

Repealed by Acts 2020, c. 1140, cl. 2.