Virginia COVID-19 Worker Protection Rule Takes Effect

On July 27, Virginia became the first state in the United States to implement a COVID-19 workplace safety rule.  The new rules require employers covered by the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) program to immediately comply with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state-issued regulations. The standard applies to most Virginia workplaces, including retail employees, office workers, and persons...
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Sweeping Changes to Virginia Employment Law Set to Take Effect July 1st

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
06/17/2020
This most recent General Assembly session saw a dramatic shift in the employment law landscape in Virginia. Through a number of new bills, Virginia has transitioned from a very “employer friendly” state to one that is significantly more “employee friendly.”  With the exception of the public sector collective bargaining law, the legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2020. Below is a summary of the most significant pieces of...
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4th Circuit Holds That IBM Can’t Have Their Cake and Eat It Too

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
06/08/2020
Justin Fessler, a sales information specialist, brought suit in Alexandria, Virginia against IBM for allegedly capping his sales commission on several large transactions. Fessler claimed that IBM represented to him orally, through PowerPoint presentations, and in practice, that his sales would not be capped.   In Fessler v. IBM, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a lower court’s decision granting IBM’s Motion to...
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New Virginia Anti-Discrimination Law Expands Coverage and Allows Employees to Sue for Damages in State Court

On April 11, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law the Virginia Values Act.  While the law has been heralded for making Virginia the first Southern state to enact comprehensive protections for LGBTQ persons, the law also amends the Virginia Human Rights Act (“VHRA”) to create a new private right of action for employment discrimination against employers of 15 or more employees (employers of more than five persons may be sued if...
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Virginia General Assembly Passes Bill Authorizing Public Sector Collective Bargaining

As the 2020 Session came to a close this weekend, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation authorizing  local governments to enact laws giving their employees the right to collectively bargain.  If, as expected, it is signed by Governor Northam, employees of Virginia counties, cities, towns and school boards will gain the opportunity to require their employing government to hold a vote on whether or not to enact collective bargaining...
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Virginia General Assembly Passes Legislation Prohibiting Worker Misclassification

The Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation that will create new civil penalties for employers who improperly classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees.  The two bills, H.B. 1407 and S.B 744, have been approved by the House and Senate. Once the two versions are reconciled, the legislation is expected to be signed by Governor Northam. Under the legislation, business who misclassify employees could be fined up to...
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Massanutten Not Liable for Massage Therapist's Sexual Assault

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
02/03/2020
Sometimes  even cynical employment attorneys like myself come across a case that leaves us shocked at what people will sometimes do in the course of their employment.  I recently found that to be the case with Lett v. Great Eastern Resort Management, a decision from the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia involving an alleged sexual assault by a massage therapist at Massanutten Spa in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Perhaps...
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Virginia Employer Dodges FMLA Bullet

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
01/14/2020
A recent FMLA case out of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia brings to mind the expression "its better to be lucky than good."  In the case of Trail v. Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company, No. 1:18CV00037 (W.D. Va. 1/8/20),  a Southwest Virginia manufacturer succeeded in getting a former employee's FMLA  lawsuit dismissed after the employee failed to provide evidence that his son's medical problems rose to the...
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Supervisor’s Hugs & Kisses Were Assault & Battery, Were Not Harassment Under Title VII

A federal court in Virginia recently found that a former employee of the Department of Veterans Services (DVS) presented enough evidence that her supervisor’s hugs and kisses comprised an assault and battery against her, but not enough to establish sexual harassment or hostile work environment under Title VII.  Back v. Commonwealth of Virginia, et al., No. 7:17-cv-00477 (W.D. Va. 11/27/19). Back worked as a Veterans Services Representative for...
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Virginia School Teacher Fails to Prove Discrimination

An Arlington County  pre-kindergarten school teacher saw his claim of gender discrimination rejected by a federal court  when the County did not renew his contract due to poor performance.  In Ostrem v. Arlington County School Board, Judge Hilton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted summary judgment to the school board, concluding that the plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie case of...
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