Employer Liability: Virginia

Employer Liability requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Susan Borowski


  • Labor law for private sector employers in Virginia consists primarily of the Right to Work statute, which lists conduct that is considered unlawful by employers and the penalties for violating the statute. See Right to Work.
  • Public employers do not have a duty to bargain with public employees. However, there are still some prohibited practices for which there are penalties. See Public Employers.

Right to Work

The majority of labor law in Virginia is contained in the state's Right to Work law. The law applies to both private and public employees and is administered by the Department of Labor and Industry. The Right to Work prohibits employers from doing the following:

  • Denying anyone employment on the basis of membership or nonmembership in a labor union;
  • Entering into an agreement with a labor organization to make union membership a condition of employment;
  • Denying employment to an individual because that individual is not a member of a union;
  • Requiring an individual to become or remain a member of a labor union as a condition of employment;
  • Requiring an individual to refrain from membership in, or holding office in, any labor union as a condition of employment; and
  • Requiring an individual to pay dues or fees to a labor union as a condition of employment.

Anyone who is denied employment or deprived of continuation of employment in violation of the Right to Work law is entitled to recover damages for denial of employment (the nature and extent of damages are not specified in the law). See +Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-58

In addition, violations are considered a misdemeanor. See +Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-69.

Public Employers

The Department of Labor and Industry regulates labor law in Virginia for public employees as well as private employees, though Virginia does not allow collective bargaining in the public sector. The law states that public employers are prohibited from recognizing a labor union as the bargaining agent for any public employees, and may not bargain collectively with a union. See +Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-57.2.

Employers that engage in lockouts are guilty of unlawful conduct. See +Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-66.

Violations of any of these provisions are a misdemeanor. See +Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-69.

Misdemeanors range in severity from Class 4 misdemeanors, with a penalty of a fine not to exceed $250, to a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a penalty of confinement in jail of not more than one year and a fine of not more than $2,500, or both. See +Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-11.

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Additional Resources

Labor Relations > Labor Relations Overview

Labor Relations > Union Organization and Labor Relations

Labor Relations > Public Sector Labor Relations