3. Complaints by or on behalf of persons claiming to be aggrieved.
4. Where to make a complaint.
5. Contents of a complaint.
6. Filing referrals to state and federal agencies.
7. Notice of complaint.
8. Investigations by the Director or his designee.
9. Dismissal; procedure and authority
11. Public Hearing.
12. Findings and recommendations.
§ 1. Policy.
The purpose of these regulations is to supplement the Virginia Human Rights Act §2.2-3900 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia which safeguards all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination.
§ 2. Definitions.
The following words and terms, when used in these regulations, shall have the following meaning, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Act" means the Virginia Human Rights Act, Chapter 39, §2.2-3900 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia.
"Complaint" means a written statement by a person or by the Council alleging an act of discrimination prohibited by Chapter 39, §2. 2-3901 of the Code of Virginia.
"Complainant" means a person who claims to have been injured by a discriminatory practice.
"Designee" means an individual named by the Director to act in his stead pursuant to these regulations.
"Director" means an individual appointed by the Governor to perform the duties and responsibilities outlined in the Act.
"Hearing Officer" means a person qualified from the list of hearing officers maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
"Respondent" means a person against whom a complaint of violation of the Act is filed.
Each reference to a "Complainant" and "Respondent" shall be deemed to refer, as appropriate, to the singular and plural. In addition to those terms and any other referring to people will be considered masculine or feminine.
§ 3. Complaints by or on behalf of persons claiming to be aggrieved.
A. A complaint on behalf of a person claiming to be aggrieved may be made by any person, agency, or organization; however, the complaint must be made in writing. The written complaint need not identify, by name, the person on whose behalf it is made. The person making the complaint, however, shall provide the Council orally with the name address; and telephone number of the person on whose behalf the complaint is made. During the Council's investigation, the Director shall verify the complaint with the person on whose behalf the complaint is made. The Council may review the identity of the complainants to federal, state, or local agencies that have agreed to keep such information confidential.
B. The complainant has the responsibility of providing the Council with notice of any change in address and with notice of any prolonged absence from his current address.
C. A complaint shall be filed with the Council not later than 180 days from the day upon which the alleged discriminatory practice occurred.
§ 4. Where to make a complaint.
A complaint may be made in person at 1220 Bank Street Jefferson Building, 3rd floor, Richmond, Virginia 23218 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday or by mail at P.O. Box 717, Richmond, Virginia 23206; or by FAX (804) 225-3294. Telephone calls may be made at (804) 225-2292 in order to receive information on how and where to file complaints. No complaint will be taken over the phone.
B. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph A. of this section, a complaint shall be considered filed when the Council receives a written statement, which identifies the parties and describes generally the action or practices complained of.
1. The full name, address, and telephone number of the person making the complaint;
2. The full name and address of the person against whom the complaint is made;
3. A clear concise statement of the facts, including pertinent dates, constituting the alleged unlawful discriminatory practices;
4. The date of filing and the name of the agency in cases where alleged unlawful discriminatory practices have been filed before a local, state or federal agency charged with the enforcement of discrimination laws.
5. Any documentation the complainant feels will support the claim.
C. A complaint may be amended by the complainant or the Director at any time prior to a hearing.
D. When an amendment is filed, the Office of Human Rights shall forward a copy of the amendment to the respondent within five working days of the amendment. The respondent shall, within 10 working days after receiving the amendment, file an answer to the amendment.
§ 6. Filing referrals to state and federal agencies.
A. Complaints which are under the jurisdiction of another state agency are considered filed with that agency when received by the Council if the filing falls within the time limits for filing as required by that agency pursuant to (§2. 2-2636 of the Code of Virginia).
B. The Council has established interagency agreements with the following state agencies
1. Department of Commerce-Real Estate Board;
2. Department of Labor and Industry;
3. Department of Personnel and Training;
4. Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy; and
5. Department of Employee Dispute Resolutions.
If it is deemed appropriate, agreements will be established with other state agencies and these regulations will be amended to include the agencies.
If the Director or his designee determines that the complaint is not within the Council's jurisdiction, but possibly in the jurisdiction of one of the interagency agreement agencies, the complaint shall be sent to the appropriate agency within 15 working days of the determination. The complainant shall be notified of this action and a reason provided. Once the complaint has been forwarded and the complainant notified the Council shall close the case. In the event the complaint is not under jurisdiction of the agency to which it was referred, or if the additional evidence is submitted, the case will be reopened.
C. Persons filing under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, or the Fair Labor Standards Act shall be notified within 15 working days that they should also file with the appropriate federal agency within the appropriate time period if the statute of limitation has not already expired.
D. All charges shall be dated upon receipt. A copy of the charge shall be transmitted by mail to the agency and the complainant and the person filing a complaint on behalf of the complainant shall be notified in writing that their complaint has been forwarded to the appropriate state or federal agency or both.
E. Complaints shall be filed with the Council not later than 180 days from the day upon which the alleged discriminatory practice occurred.
§ 8. Investigations by the Director or his designee.
A. During the investigation of a complaint, the Director may utilize the information gathered by government agencies. The Director shall accept a statement of position or evidence submitted by the complainant, person making the complaint on behalf of the complainant, or the respondent. The Director may submit a request for information to the respondent which, in addition to specific questions, may request a response to the allegations contained in the complaint. The Director's or his designee's request for information shall be mailed within 20 working days of receipt of the complaint. A response to the request for information should be submitted within 20 working days from the date the request is postmarked.
B. The Director may require the complainant to provide such additional information as he deems necessary to conduct an investigation.
C. The Director may require a fact-finding conference with the parties prior to a determination of a complaint of discrimination. The conference is an investigative forum intended to define the issues, to determine the elements in dispute and to ascertain whether there is a basis for a negotiated settlement of the complaint.
D. The Director's or his designee's authority to investigate a complaint is not limited to the procedures outlined in paragraphs A, B and C of this section.
§ 9. Dismissal; procedure and authority
A. When the Director determines that the complaint is not is timely filed, or fails to state a claim under the act, the Director shall dismiss the complaint.
B. When the Director determines after investigation that there is not reasonable cause to believe that the Act has been violated, the Director shall dismiss the complaint. If the complainant disagrees with the Director's decision, the Council can be petitioned within 10 working days for a review of the decision.
C. Upon petition for review, the Council shall establish a panel of three members to hear such petitions. If it is determined within 30 working days after the petition for review of a dismissal of a complaint that there is not reasonable cause to believe the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice, the Council shall issue an order dismissing the complaint and furnish a copy of the order to all parties.
§ 10. Settlement.
A. When the Director determines that there is reasonable case to believe that an unlawful discriminatory practice has occurred or is occurring, the Director shall endeavor to eliminate such practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation and negotiation.
B. When conciliation or negotiated settlement is successful, the terms of the agreement shall be reduced to writing and signed by the complainant, respondent and the Director within 10 working days of the agreement.
§ 11. Public Hearing.
A. When conciliation efforts fail, or when the Director determines that the conciliation process will not be in the best interest of the complainant or the Commonwealth, the Director shall set the matter for public hearing or refer the complaint to the appropriate federal agency.
B. Notice of time and place of the hearing shall be mailed to the parties at least 20 working days before the date of the hearing.
C. All hearings shall be open to the public.
D. A case will be heard by a hearing officer appointed by the Council from a list obtained from the Supreme Court of Virginia.
E. The hearing officer shall not be bound by statutory rules of evidence or technical rules of procedure.
F. Both complainant and the respondent shall appear and be heard in person, but may be assisted by counsel, or by an authorized representative.
G. All testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation.
H. The order or presentation shall be established by the hearing officer with the burden of going forward being placed on the complainant.
I. Any party who fails to appear at a hearing or to respond to a request for information by a specified date, in the absence of good cause shown, shall be deemed to have waived all further rights to appear, present evidence, or petition for rehearing or reconsideration.
J. Irrelevant, immaterial and unduly repetitious evidence shall at the discretion of the hearing officer be excluded. The rules of privilege shall be given effect.
K. The hearing officer may accept relevant documents or other evidence into the record as exhibits. Documents to be submitted at the hearing by part must be distributed to the Council and the other party no later than five working days prior to the hearing. Documents not submitted in accordance with this rule will only be admitted when the presiding body or hearing officer determines that cause exists for failure to follow this rule.
L. Before the hearing is closed, the parties shall be given an opportunity to present an oral argument of their case.
M. The hearing shall be recorded by an official reporter and one transcript will be purchased by the Council. The Council's copy will be made available for review within a reasonable time after request at the Office of Human Rights during regular business hours.
§ 12. Findings and recommendations.
A. The hearing officer of the Council shall state findings of fact and conclusions of law in writing. The findings of the hearing officer shall be filed with the Council within 30 working days of the date of completion of the hearing.
B. If the Council votes to accept the hearing officer's findings that the respondent has not engaged in a discriminatory practice, it shall issue an order dismissing the complaint. A copy of the order shall be furnished to the complainant and the respondent.
C. If the Council votes to accept the hearing officer's findings that the respondent has committed an unlawful discriminatory practice, it shall state its findings and may issue recommendations to eliminate the discriminatory practice, including, but not limited to:
1. Hiring, reinstating, promoting or upgrading the position of the complainant, with or without back pay, and providing such fringe benefits as the complainant has been denied;
2. Restoring or admitting the complainant to membership in a labor organization, a training program, guidance program or other occupational training program, using the objective criteria for admission of persons to such programs;
3. Leasing, renting or selling property at issue to the complainant;
4. Extending to the complainant the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges or accommodations of the respondent;
5. Admitting the complainant to a public accommodation or educational institution;
6. Reporting as to the manner of compliance;
7. Posting notices in a conspicuous place setting forth requirements for compliance with this chapter or other information that the Council deems necessary to explain the Act;
8. Revising personnel policies and procedures, including the undertaking of affirmative efforts; and
9. Reimbursing attorney's fees to complainant.
D. If the Council votes not to accept the hearing officer's findings, it will return the findings to the hearing officer for further consideration, or appoint a new hearing officer and set a new hearing on the complaint.
E. Copies of Council's recommendations shall be furnished to the complainant and respondent within 15 working days.
A. If the Council fails to act by dates specified herein, neither the rights of the complainant nor the respondent will be prejudiced.
B. If the complainant or the respondent fails to comply with the provisions stated herein, except where good cause is shown, the failure may be deemed a waiver of any rights provided herein.
C. After the initial filing, all correspondences relative to the case should be certified mail, hand delivered or a carrier who will furnish a receipt.
Complaints of possible violations of the Act may be filed with:
Human Rights Council
Sandra D. Norman, Director
1220 Bank Street Jefferson Building, 3rd floor
Richmond, Virginia 23218
The HR Study and the Submit a Complaint form are in .pdf format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader.
To obtain a free copy of the Reader, visit the Adobe website.