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Below is a list of a few of the bills that passed in the 2021 General Assembly Session that will become effective as of Thursday, July 1st.

Many other bills passed that impact the retail industry but they either went into effect immediately, or had a delayed effective date.

HB 2040 – Hudson – Unemployment compensation; failure to respond, continuation of benefits, repayment of overpayments

  • Codifies Governor’s Executive Order allowing unemployment recipients to continue to receive benefits during their appeals process to determine eligibility, and waives any overpayments due to extensions of benefits during appeals process that is eventually denied or due to administrative error by VEC.
  • Provides that when a claimant has had a determination of initial eligibility for unemployment benefits, as determined by the issuance of compensation or waiting-week credit, payments shall continue, subject to a presumption of continued eligibility, until a determination is made that provides the claimant notice and an opportunity to be heard.
  • The bill requires the Virginia Employment Commission to waive the obligation to repay any overpayment if (i) the overpayment was made without fault on the part of the individual and (ii) requiring repayment would be contrary to equity and good conscience. Overpayments shall not be considered “without fault on the part of the individual” if the overpayment was the result of (a) a reversal in the appeals process, unless the employer failed to respond timely or adequately; (b) a programming, technological, or automated system error that results in erroneous payments to a group of individuals; or (c) fraud.
  • The bill also provides that the Commission shall notify each person with an unpaid overpayment of benefits that he may be entitled to a waiver of repayment and provide 30 days to request such a waiver. The bill applies to outstanding overpayments established for the week commencing March 15, 2020, through the week commencing June 27, 2021. Amounts already paid or collected against such overpayments shall not be reimbursed to the claimant, except for benefits paid under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The bill allows the Commission to suspend or forgo referring any overpayment to the collections process. The bill provides that all costs to the Unemployment Compensation Fund (the Fund) resulting from the provisions of the bill for overpayments of benefits shall be reimbursed to the Fund from the general fund in the general appropriation act and that employers are not responsible for reimbursing benefits or benefits charges except when the employer failed to respond timely or adequately. The provisions of the bill expire on July 1, 2022.

HB 1848 – Sickles – Virginia Human Rights Acts; adds discrimination on the basis of disability

  • Adds discrimination on the basis of disability as an unlawful discriminatory practice under the Virginia Human Rights Act. The bill also requires employers, defined in the bill, to make reasonable accommodation to the known physical and mental impairments of an otherwise qualified person with a disability, if necessary to assist such person in performing a particular job, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. The bill also prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation, from denying employment or promotion opportunities to an otherwise qualified applicant or employee because such employer will be required to make reasonable accommodation to the applicant or employee, or from requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to the known limitations related to the disability.

See article from JacksonLewis: Virginia Employers Soon Must Adopt, Provide Accommodation Policies to Employees With Disabilities | Jackson Lewis

HB 2063 – Mullin – Virginia Overtime Wage Act; overtime compensation employees, penalties

  • Requires an employer to compensate certain employees at a rate not less than one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay, defined in the bill, for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any one workweek. The bill includes provisions for calculating overtime premiums due to fire protection and law-enforcement employees by certain public sector employers. The penalties provided by the bill for an employer’s failure to pay such overtime wages, including civil and criminal penalties, are the same as currently provided for failing to pay wages generally. The statute of limitations for bringing a claim for a violation of the bill is three years.

HB 2290 – Plum – Larceny; repeals punishment for conviction of second or subsequent misdemeanor

  • Repeals the enhanced penalties for a second or subsequent misdemeanor larceny conviction. Under current law, when a person is convicted of a second larceny offense, he shall be confined in jail not less than 30 days nor more than 12 months, and for a third, or any subsequent offense, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

HB 2266 – Ayala – Alcoholic beverage control; local outdoor refreshment areas

  • Renames the “local special events” license as the “designated outdoor refreshment area” license. The bill allows the Board of Directors of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to increase the frequency and duration of events held under such license after adoption of an ordinance by a locality requesting such increase in frequency and duration. Under current law, localities are limited to holding 16 events per year under such license, with each event lasting no more than three consecutive days, except during the effective dates of any rule, regulation, or order that is issued by the Governor or State Health Commissioner to meet a public health emergency and that effectively reduces allowable restaurant seating capacity. The bill also increases the state and local license fees for designated outdoor refreshment area licenses issued pursuant to a local ordinance. This bill incorporates HB 2051 and is identical to SB 1471.

Source: VRF