Breaking News
More () »

New law protects Virginia's 115,000 military members from discrimination

Public accommodations, housing, and employment are key areas where service personnel were targeted in the past.

NORFOLK, Va. — Good news for Virginia's more than 115,000 active duty military members and their families.

A new law that went into effect on Thursday will protect them from various discriminatory practices.

HB 2161 -- which passed the House of Delegates 99-0 and the State Senate 39-0 before being signed into law this week by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam -- makes "military status" a protected class in Virginia.

It prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and housing on the basis of a person's active or reserve military status, and provides the same protections for military spouses and dependents.

"This is a really important and needed protection," said Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Virginia). "And it's hard to believe that there are businesses out there who would discriminate against military service members but, unfortunately, that's what we have seen."

Examples of anti-military discrimination that this new law will protect against include:

  • Charging service members a higher security deposit.
  • Refusing to rent to someone in the reserves because the landlord is worried the tenant will be deployed.
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

With the enactment of the new law, Herring's Office of Civil Rights will now be able to enforce anti-discrimination protections.

"So this is something that is much needed, and long overdue," he said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out