Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That §2.2-3903 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
§2.2-3903. Causes of action not created.
A. Nothing in this chapter or in Article 4 (§2.2-520 et seq.) of Chapter 5 creates, nor shall it be construed to create, an independent or private cause of action to enforce its provisions, except as specifically provided in subsections B and C.
B. No employer employing more than five but
than 15 persons shall discharge engage in an unlawful discriminatory
practice against any such employee on
the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth
or related medical conditions, including lactation. No employer employing more
than five but less fewer than 20 persons shall discharge
engage in an unlawful discriminatory practice
against any such employee on the basis of age if the
employee is 40 years of age or older. For the purposes of this section,
"lactation" means a condition that may result in the feeding of a
child directly from the breast or the expressing of milk from the breast.
C. The employee may bring an action
in a general district or circuit court having jurisdiction over the employer
engaged in an unlawful
discriminatory practice against the employee in violation
of this section. Any such action shall be brought within 300 days from the date
of the discharge
alleged unlawful discriminatory practice or, if the
employee has filed a complaint with the Division of Human Rights of the
Department of Law or a local human rights or human relations agency or
commission within 300 days of the discharge alleged unlawful discriminatory practice,
such action shall be brought within 90 days from the date that the Division or
a local human rights or human relations agency or commission has rendered a
final disposition on the complaint.
The court may award compensatory or punitive damages in an amount of up to $25,000. For actions against an employer who allegedly discharged an employee in violation of this section, the court may award up to 12 months' back pay with interest at the judgment rate as provided in §6.2-302 or up to $25,000, whichever amount is greater. However, if the court finds that either party engaged in tactics to delay resolution of the complaint, it may (i) diminish the award or (ii) award back pay to the date of judgment without regard to the 12-month limitation. The court shall not order reinstatement of the employee.
In any case where the employee prevails, the court shall award
attorney fees from the amount recovered, not to exceed 25 percent of the
back pay awarded amount awarded. The court shall not
award other damages, compensatory or punitive, nor shall it order reinstatement
of the employee.
D. Causes of action based upon the public policies reflected in this chapter shall be exclusively limited to those actions, procedures, and remedies, if any, afforded by applicable federal or state civil rights statutes or local ordinances. Nothing in this section or § 2.2-3900 shall be deemed to alter, supersede, or otherwise modify the authority of the Division or of any local human rights or human relations commissions established pursuant to §15.2-853 or 15.2-965.
2. That the provisions of this act creating a cause of action against an employer who engages in unlawful discriminatory practices against an employee shall apply only to unlawful discriminatory practices that occur or are alleged to occur on or after July 1, 2019.