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Employment Discrimination Laws in Northern Virginia Localities

The Erlich Law Office can help you navigate the laws of specific localities in addition to federal and state laws. If you have a matter that is best litigated in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William County, or another Virginia city or county, we can work through the local systems in place.

You may already know about federal and state laws that protect workers from discrimination in employment; if you work certain localities in Northern Virginia, however, you might also be protected from employment discrimination by local ordinances that overlap and may even be broader than federal and state antidiscrimination statutes.

One city and three counties within Northern Virginia have enacted their own human rights ordinances: the City of Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties.


The Alexandria Human Rights Code was passed in 1975 and prohibits 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.

The Code created the Alexandria Human Rights Commission to administer its provisions. The Commission has the power to receive and mediate complaints against unlawful discrimination, negotiate settlements, conduct research and hearings, and advise the City Council or Manager on human rights issues affecting the City.

In 1988, the Code was amended to include sexual orientation as a protected class, and in 1991, the Code was amended to prohibit discrimination in housing against families with children and cover all disabilities. Most recently, the Code was amended in 1996 to prohibit discriminatory practices in commercial real estate.


Arlington County’s Human Rights Ordinance makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate because of race, national origin, color, marital status, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or familial status. The Arlington Human Rights Commission receives, investigates, and mediates complaints from those who believe they have been victims of unlawful discrimination, free of charge. The Commission’s investigations normally result in complaint resolution. If necessary, however, the Commission can, with County Board approval, seek enforcement of its decisions in court.


Fairfax County, Virginia enacted its Human Rights Ordinance in 1974 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, color, religion, age, disability, sex, and marital status. The Ordinance created the Fairfax Human Rights Commission to receive and investigate complaints of discrimination.

Any person who believes that he or she has experienced discrimination may file a complaint with the Fairfax Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs within 365 days of the incident. Once a complaint has been filed, the investigation process commences and both parties will be provided the opportunity to mediate. Then, after a series of steps, the Commission staff will issue a determination on whether there is probable cause discrimination has occurred. If you file a complaint with the Fairfax HRC that is also covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and other federal discrimination statutes, your case will be cross-filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


Prince William County’s Human Rights Ordinance was enacted in 1993 and bans discriminatory practices based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, marital status or disability. Prince William County’s Human Rights Ordinance also created a Human Rights Commission to ensure that “each citizen is treated fairly, provided equal protection of the law, and equal opportunity to participate in the benefits, rights, and privileges of community life.” This Human Rights Commission consists of nine at-large members appointed by the Board of County Supervisors. If you have been subjected to employment discrimination, you can file a complaint with the PWC Human Rights Commission by filling out an intake questionnaire.

The agencies mentioned above are not the only methods for seeking a legal remedy for unlawful employment discrimination. The Erlich Law Office has extensive experience guiding clients through local, state and federal agencies, as well as in civil courts, to pursue their employment discrimination claims. Call (703) 791-9087 or visit our website for a consultation.