In response to a proposal by Governor Ralph Northam, of which we advised you last week, the Virginia legislature has approved a delay in the minimum wage increase that was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2021.  Under the amendments passed this week however, the initial increase (from the current $7.25 to $9.50 per hour) is the only hike that is actually delayed – now not taking effect until May 1, 2021. Subsequently, the wage will increase to $11 an hour on January 1, 2022 and to $12/hour one year later. Beyond that, the legislature is required to act by June 30, 2024 for two additional increase ($13.50 on 1/1/25 and $15 on 1/1/26), but now if it doesn’t, the wage will tether to the CPI beginning January 1, 2025. Also two weeks ago, Governor Northam signed into law the Virginia Values Act, to be effective July 1, 2020. The law amends the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. The VHRA will now allow plaintiffs alleging any form of employment discrimination to file their claim in state court against employers with more than 5 employees and provides for the award of attorney fees, and compensatory as well as punitive damages.