City of Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria is an independent city in Virginia that operates by the council-manager form of government. The City Council of Alexandria is comprised on a Mayor and six Council members. The city encompasses 15.75 square miles at an average elevation of 30 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, Alexandria had a population of 139,966, and in 2013, the population was estimated to be 151,218. It is six miles south of Washington, D.C., and has a total area of 15.5 square miles.

Alexandria has a complex and rich history. It was founded in 1749 and many of its historical buildings are still preserved today. During the subsequent decades it was a major trading location and a staging area for British troops involved in the French and Indian War. Alexandria was incorporated in 1779 and became a port of entry for foreign ships and major trading center for flour and hemp. By the late 18th century, it was one of the ten busiest ports in America.

In 1789, Alexandria and a portion of Fairfax County were ceded to the State of Virginia to form part of the 10-mile square District of Columbia. Despite competition from Baltimore, which eventually replaced Alexandria as the major entry port for the upper Chesapeake region, it remained a major center for the export of grain and bread products.

Alexandria saw rapid growth at the end of World War II, when it became of the many “bedroom communities” serving the capital. Like the rest of Northern Virginia and central Maryland, Alexandria has been influenced by its closeness to Washington, D.C. Most people in Alexandria work for the federal civil service, the U.S. military, or one of the many private companies that contract services to the federal government. One of Alexandria’s largest employers is the Department of Defense, and others include the Institute for Defenses Analyses and the Center for Naval Analyses. In 2005, it became the home of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Major private employers in Alexandria include Inova Alexandria Hospital, ABM Industries, The Institute for Defense Analyses, Gali Service Industries and Grant Thornton LLP.

Employment disputes in Alexandria can be handled by the Alexandria Human Rights Commission, which was formed in March 1975 when the City Council passed its Human Rights Ordinance. Created to oversee the administration of the ordinance’s provisions, the Commission has the power to receive and mediate complaints about discrimination, negotiate settlements, conduct studies and hold hearings, and advise the City Council or City Manager on human rights issues affecting the City.

Enforcement of the Ordinance is handled by another body, the Office of Human Rights, which receives, investigates, makings findings, and mediates discrimination matters brought under the Ordinance and/or applicable state and federal laws. The Office was designated in 1975 as a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA), and has been under contract with the U.S. Equal Employment Commission (EEOC) since 1978 to receive and review employment complaints brought under federal antidiscrimination laws.

The Office of Human Rights is also an appropriate avenue for addressing disability rights discrimination claims. It houses the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Program Manager, who handles various aspects of this type of matter and refers persons with disabilities to the appropriate and available community and legal resources at the local, state, and federal level.

The original ordinance became effective in 1975 and bans discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, credit, health and social services, education and city contracts on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, or physical handicap. In 1996, it was amended to include a civil penalties clause, which authorizes the Commission to recommend that the City Manager, following a public hearing, impose a $5,000 fine against any person found to have violated any section of the Human Rights Code.

If you are a government employee, you have certain rights and protections, based upon your individual position. You might have appeal rights to the Merit Services Protection Board or other substantive rights if you are the victim of misconduct. You also have a specific process to follow to file a discrimination complaint with federal sector EEO that differs from the way that the private sector Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes and investigates charges. If you are a federal employee who needs help, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you.

Our office is centrally located at 2111 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 700, Arlington, Virginia 22201, right on top of the Courthouse Metro Station on the Orange Line and just across the street from the Arlington County Courthouse. Call us at (703) 791-9087 or contact us through our website for directions to the office or a free consultation.