Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

RTD Metro Business law columnist, Karen Michael.

Virginia companies employing five or more workers will need to comply with the addition of “disability” as a protected characteristic to the Virginia Human Rights Act effective July 1.

Currently, businesses with 15 or more employees must comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

But come July 1, those same companies and now those that employ five or more workers also must comply with the expanded state law.

In addition to the non-discrimination requirements, Virginia employers must also provide reasonable accommodations to workers with a disability, as defined under Virginia law, unless doing so would create an undue hardship.

Employers cannot “refuse to make reasonable accommodation to the known physical and mental impairments of an otherwise qualified person with a disability, if necessary to assist such person in performing a particular job, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.”

In defining these terms, Virginia lawmakers referred to other provisions of the Virginia code, including the former Virginia disability law that the legislature oddly did not rescind.

The problem for employers will be the differing definitions between the ADA and the new Virginia law.