Virginia’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against employees with certain protected characteristics and may apply to companies with as few as five employees, requires employers to engage in a timely, good faith interactive process to evaluate providing reasonable accommodations related to an employee’s pregnancy.

Specifically, due to amendments to the Virginia Human Rights Act which took effect July 1, 2020, Virginia state law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the absence of undue hardship on the employer.

Because the law applies to employers who may not have a large enough number of employees to trigger the reasonable accommodation obligations under federal law, the Virginia Human Rights Act is a potential new area of obligation for small employers. There are two provisions of the law employers should consider immediately, and updates to internal policies should be evaluated and implemented promptly. 

The Virginia Department of Labor has created a notice that provides a list of possible reasonable accommodations, including more frequent or long bathroom breaks, allowing breaks to express breast milk, a temporary transfer to a less hazardous position, job restructuring, a modified work schedule, and leave to recover from childbirth, among others. A Virginia Department of Labor notice related to the potential reasonable accommodations, the interactive process, and complaints under the current law is available.

The law also outlines information that is required to be disseminated to employees via a post in a conspicuous location and updates to any employee handbooks. Updates should clearly communicate:

  • Virginia law includes “the prohibition against unlawful discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions;” and
  • Virginia law protects “an employee’s rights to reasonable accommodation for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

Employers are required to give this information to new employees upon commencement of their employment as well as to employees who notify their employers that they are pregnant within 10 days of such notification.


We encourage employers and employees to review their internal policies or reach out to your attorney with questions or concerns about whether an updated policy is required given these changes.

Follow our blog for updates as our team continues to analyze new legislation and monitor developments in this area.

Note: The information contained on this page does not constitute legal advice, and reading the information does not automatically start an attorney-client relationship. The details are meant to serve as guidance on the new law, but it is not comprehensive of all situations.