The rapid evolution of Virginia workplace laws continues with the Virginia General Assembly’s passage of HB 1848, which extends employee workplace protections under the Virginia Human Rights Act (“VHRA”) to include a prohibition on discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The VHRA is applicable to Virginia employers with six or more employees.
Effective July 1, 2021, the VHRA requires employers to engage in the familiar, ADA-like, good faith interactive process to determine whether there are reasonable accommodations available that will allow an otherwise qualified individual with a disability to perform their job.
Also like the ADA, the new Virginia law creates an exception to the reasonable accommodation requirement, if such accommodations would impose an “undue hardship” on the employer. Factors applicable to proving an undue hardship under the VHRA include:
- Hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business, looking at the nature of employer’s operation, including the composition and structure of its workforce
- The size of the work environment where the employment occurs
- The nature and cost of the particular accommodation, factoring in other sources of applicable assistance of funding
- Whether the particular accommodation may be used by other prospective employees
- The safety and health of the individual with a disability, other employees, and the public.
The new law also prohibits employers from refusing to hire an applicant for employment due to the applicant’s need for reasonable accommodations and from retaliating against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation.
Finally, Virginia employers will now be required to include in their employee handbook information concerning the rights of disabled employees to a reasonable accommodation, while also posting the same information in a conspicuous workplace location and providing it to any new hired employee or existing worker who provides the employer with notice of a disability.
If you have questions about your policies and practices to ensure compliance with the new legal requirements, the employment law attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman can assist in evaluating your company’s specific concerns and in crafting effective solutions.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain or convey legal advice. Consult a lawyer. Any views or opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily the views of any client.