If you believe that your civil rights have been violated under the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) or other Northern Virginia discrimination laws, you may be wondering what compensation you could receive if you decide to pursue your case. Deciding to go through with a lawsuit is no small decision, and you should do so knowing what you can expect to receive in the end if you win your case. It’s important that you know even if you win your case, you may only be awarded some of the compensation listed below and not all of it. You also need to be aware of which law(s) you are claiming your employer broke as those can have an impact on the compensation you can receive. The VHRA is a statewide law, but other counties and cities have their own laws and policies for dealing with discrimination.
If you have filed, or are thinking of filing a discrimination claim, reach out to an employment law attorney immediately to discuss workplace law in more detail and any additional remedies that may be available. They can provide you with more information about Virginia discrimination laws that are specific to your area.
Workplace discrimination can come in many different forms and can sometimes be very overt. This can make it challenging to determine what exactly qualifies as discrimination. If you ever have any doubt or question about whether or not your case is applicable under these particular laws or if you need guidance filing a claim, be sure to reach out to an employment law attorney to review your case.
Discrimination in the workplace happens when a member of a protected class, like minorities and women, are treated differently than their peers. This can include things like repeatedly getting passed for a promotion one is well qualified for, racial slurs, or other hostilities. Race, religion, sex, age, pregnancy, disability, and national origin are specific characteristics that are outlined to be protected under these Virginia discrimination laws. If you are passed up for a raise, promotion, or another benefit directly because of one of these characteristics, then you are a victim of workplace discrimination.
The Virginia Human Rights Act
The Virginia Human Rights Act (Title 2.2, chapter 39 of the Code of Virginia), protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, and disability from unlawful discrimination. This also includes unlawful discrimination in educational institutions and real estate transactions.
The Virginia Human Rights Act allows for private rights of action in limited employment discrimination cases involving employers with more than five but less than 20 employees. This means that employers with less than four employees do not fall under this Act. Private rights of action are when a law that creates rights also allows for private parties to bring a lawsuit, even though no such remedy is explicitly provided for in the law.
Northern Virginia Discrimination Laws
Fairfax County’s Human Rights Ordinance
In 1974 Fairfax County enacted its Human Rights Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin, color, religion, age, disability, sex, and marital status. The Ordinance also created the Fairfax Human Rights Commission to receive and investigate complaints of discrimination. If you believe you have experienced discrimination you may file a complaint with the Fairfax Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs within a year of the incident. Following that, an investigation will begin and attempts to mediate the situation will be taken.
Alexandria City’s Human Right Code
In 1975 the Alexandria Human Rights Code was passed to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, credit, health and social services, education and city contracts, on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, or physical handicap. This code created the Alexandria Human Rights Commission to administer its provisions. They have the power to mediate discrimination complaints, negotiate settlements, conduct research and hearings, and advice the City Council or Manager on human rights issues affecting the City. As of more recently, the code has been amended to include protection of discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Becoming familiar with the Virginia discrimination laws that affect your case will help you understand the process you’re going to go through and help you understand really what you can obtain from winning.
This is the most common type of compensation that is rewarded. It just simply means that you will receive the income that you lost while you were not working because of an adverse employment action. If you were skipped over for a promotion based on protected characteristics, your back pay may include the difference between your salary at the time and your salary with your raise for the promotion. It’s also possible for the company to consider any bonuses or other compensation outside of wages that you did not have the opportunity receive because of the adverse employment action.
Back Pay will also include interest, overtime, shift differentials, and raises you would have received. The value of employer-provided housing lost because of the discrimination can also be rewarded as back pay. Your back pay will be calculated from the date of the discrimination or job loss to the date of the court’s decision.
Front pay is compensation that orders your employer to pay wages for a specific period in the future, even though you no longer work in that position. This is a more common remedy that is ordered, rather than reinstating the employee that has been unlawfully fired.
Punitive Damages are damages exceeding simple compensation and are awarded to punish the defendant, in this case, your employer. This usually only happens when the employers have acted with such reckless indifference to the civil rights of their employees that they should be punished for those actions.
You can also be awarded remedies for emotional distress, medical expenses, injunctive relief or all three. If your claim goes to trial or if your case is won with a motion, it’s possible that the court could order your employer to pay your attorney fees.