On February 13, 2014, in Bostic v. Rainey, Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that any Virginia laws banning same-sex marriage or prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages – including Article I, Section 15-A of the Virginia Constitution and Sections 20-45.2 and 20-45.3 of the Virginia Code – are unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. If upheld, the ruling, in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. United States, means that Virginia employees who choose to marry a person of the same sex would now have the benefit of spousal status under both state and federal law for the purposes of medical plan coverage, 401(k) and retirement plans, and entitlement to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Articles About Virginia Labor And Employment Law.
In Assurance Data, Inc. v. John Malyevac, No. 121989 (Sept. 12, 2013), the Supreme Court of Virginia held that the Fairfax County Circuit Court had been too quick to rule on the enforceability of a covenant not to compete, reversing the court’s dismissal of the employer’s complaint and remanding the case to the trial court. This ruling signals an important shift in the procedural and strategic landscape surrounding non-compete agreements in the Commonwealth, as the court has effectively limited a frequently used device for challenging and disposing of non-compete claims early in litigation.
Virginia has enacted two new laws that are intended to enhance employee protections, particularly during union organizing drives in the Commonwealth. One law guarantees the right to vote in a secret ballot election. The other law limits those situations in which an employer may be required to disclose certain information to third parties about current and former employees. Both laws, which are effective July 1, 2013, were spearheaded by Delegate Barbara Comstock, who characterized them as “…a victory for the rights of workers and for protecting employees in the workplace.”
The Virginia Supreme Court has spoken again on the calculation of damages in a complex employment contract case. In Online Resources Corp. v. Lawlor, No. 120208 (Va. Jan. 10, 2013), the court addressed the expert qualifications required for the valuation of equity following the termination of the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) (“executive”) of a publicly-traded company, as well as the applicability of Delaware Corporations Law to related change in control (CIC) provisions.
Non-compete restrictions are creations of state law, which can sometimes vary on key aspects of contract formation and enforceability. One of those aspects is the extent to which states will reform or “blue pencil” the language of the restrictions. In many states a court will rewrite the terms of the restrictions to make them reasonable, thus fulfilling the parties’ contractual intent. Courts in other states refuse to tamper with a restriction’s language, requiring the non-competes to rise or fall on their literal terms.
In Preferred Systems Solutions, Inc. v. GP Consulting, LLC, Nos. 11906, 11907 (Sept. 14, 2012), the Supreme Court of Virginia, for the first time, defined how to calculate damages for the breach of a noncompete provision where the breach resulted in the loss of an expected contract
In VanBuren v. Grubb, No. 120348 (Nov. 1, 2012), a sharply divided Supreme Court of Virginia surprised employers by holding that a common law tort action for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy may be brought against an individual manager or supervisor.
In a case of first impression, the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that supervisors and managers can be held individually liable for public policy wrongful discharge under Virginia common law. In VanBuren v. Grubb, No. 120348 (Nov. 1, 2012), the Court held that a former employee of a medical practice could sue her former supervisor individually after he allegedly discharged her for refusing his sexual advances.
In a recent Virginia trade secrets case, the appellate court’s ruling illustrates that in any case for damages, the manner and measure of valuation is paramount. In 21st Century Systems, Inc. v. Perot Systems Government Services, Inc., a Virginia jury awarded Perot Systems Government Services, Inc. (Perot) $3,743,843 in damages for lost goodwill from actions by 21st Century Systems, Inc. (21CSI) and former Perot employees that Perot characterized as tortious interference with contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misuse of confidential information. The goodwill award was trebled to $11,228,529.
Finding a non-compete provision in an employment agreement overbroad on its face and therefore unenforceable, the Supreme Court of Virginia has affirmed dismissal of an employerâ€™s breach of contract claim against a former employee. Home Paramount Pest Control Cos., Inc. v. Shaffer, 2011 Va. LEXIS 222 (Va. Nov. 4, 2011). While acknowledging that it was invalidating a provision that was identical to one it had enforced for the same employer more than 20 years earlier, the Court said the Virginia law on non-competes has evolved since then and overruled conflicting portions of its 1989 opinion.
In Home Paramount Pest Control Cos. v. Shaffer, No. 101837, 2011 Va. LEXIS 222 (Nov. 4, 2011), the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a covenant not to compete was overbroad and unenforceable, even though it was identical to a covenant the court had upheld 22 years earlier in Paramount Termite Control Co. v. Rector, 238 Va. 171 (1989). Acknowledging this, the court expressly overruled its holding in Paramount Termite.
An at-will employee must show a customer used â€œimproper methodsâ€ beyond merely â€œactions solely motivated by spite, ill will and maliceâ€ to prove her employerâ€™s primary customer tortiously interfered with her employment contract, the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled. The Court reversed a jury verdict awarding $900,000 in damages to a doctor for tortious interference, finding the pressure inherent in her employerâ€™s relationship with its customer and primary source of revenue cannot rise to the level of â€œimproper methodsâ€ needed for an at-will employee to show that the third party tortiously interfered with her employment contract.