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Sexually Harassed Employees in Chesapeake and Benefits of the Virginia Values Act

— April 28, 2022

Victims of sexual harassment have legal options to remedy harms.

The federal government has sued Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. and a contractor, alleging that they fired two employees in retaliation for their filing of sexual harassment complaints. According to the suit, the two employees were employed by Quality Coatings of Virginia Inc., a Chesapeake-based company that Northrop had hired to perform cleaning and other services on the carrier George H.W. Bush.  The suit alleges that the individuals were fired for reporting episodes of their boss physically kneeing workers in the groin.  Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace should report and hire an experienced Virginia sexual harassment lawyer to determine best avenues toward compensation.  

Virginia Values Act

The Virginia Values Act (“VVA”), that went into effect in 2020, may increase an employer’s exposure for employment discrimination claims, because it expands coverages of the Virginia Human Rights Act (“VHRA”), allowing causes of action for discrimination, and expanding available remedies. Chesapeake employees may find the VVA to be helpful when they are considering remedies under Title VII and other federal EEO rules, because some of these new rights extend beyond current federal rights.  Victims of workplace sexual harassment should seek guidance form experienced lawyers in Chesapeake who can answer questions and take the appropriate legal steps to remedy workplace difficulties and access comprehensive damages.


While Title VII offers a wide range of protections for negative behaviors against race, color, religion, sex, and national origin applying to employers with 15, or more employees, the VVA applies to discriminatory discharge claims for employers with 6-14 employees, and to discharge and other adverse employment actions for employers of 15, or more employees, with special circumstance to employers with 20 or more, when a claim is regarding age discrimination.  

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If there is some reason that a victim is not protected under Title VII language, a civil rights, personal injury, or sexual harassment lawyer may be able to offer another means toward compensation when sexual harassment causes harm and damage to an employee.  

Sexual harassment claims

Sexual harassment claims cannot be made if the sexual behavior was welcomed, or occurred with mutual consent. Sexual harassment is illegal when it is so frequent, or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as a victim being fired, transferred, or demoted.  The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.  

Legal recourse

Graphic of gavel on polished desk; image by Vanna44, via
Graphic of gavel on polished desk; image by Vanna44, via

Victims of sexual harassment have legal options to remedy harms, and hiring skilled lawyers is the first thing a victim  should do after reporting the abuse through the proper channels at a place of employment, if there are procedural guidelines set up that must be followed.

Avenues for reporting

  • Direct reporting.
  • Requesting mediation as an informal solution. 
  • Employer grievance procedures.  
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. 


Employee advantages to state action.

  • There is no cap on compensatory damages in Virginia. Punitive damages are capped at the highest level of $350,000.
  • No depositions may be used for summary judgment in state court and summary judgment is difficult to obtain. In federal court, many discrimination cases end at summary judgement
  • A motivating factor burden of proof is necessary versus a determinative factor

Speak with an attorney regarding compensation.

  • Monetary damages including back pay, attorney and court fees, emotional pain, and negative effects of the harassment.
  • Equitable relief by job reinstatement, or promotion.
  • Punitive damages if actions were extremely offensive, and egregious sexual harassment misconduct. 

If you, or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, or related sexual assault, seek out a professional attorney for guidance toward legal actions that will remedy the situation.


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