Letter: Rose Ellen Ray, Leesburg

Editor: Not just Christians need to worry about the Virginia Values Act. Loudoun photographer, Bob Updegrove, has filed a lawsuit against it with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria on religious grounds. Virginia businesses need to worry, too. The VVA is anti-business. It goes too far to ban workplace discrimination of certain classes of individuals: LGBTQ+.

The laws that the VVA spawns may put any business or public body with more than five employees in financial jeopardy.

For example, a protected individual is not hired. That individual sues the business owner for discrimination. Even if the lawsuit is frivolous, the employer has to prove at great uncompensated expense that this individual is not a victim of discrimination but the wrong person for the job. How many businesses have hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay attorneys? Do you think this is exaggeration? Punitive damages are capped at $350,000 and compensatory damages, e.g., for emotional distress, are unlimited. Another example, what if a protected individual is hired and turns out to be incompetent? The individual is fired and then sues for discrimination under the VVA. Again, the employer must prove at great uncompensated expense that the individual is not being fired due to discrimination.  

How can businesses stay in business? They have now become the victim. Virginia’s economy will contract (fewer jobs, less production, less tax revenue). The VVA must be revised to balance businesses’ needs with those of the LGBTQ+ population.

Rose Ellen Ray, Leesburg

7 thoughts on “Letter: Rose Ellen Ray, Leesburg

  • 2020-10-04 at 9:23 am

    The (D)s want to turn our beloved Commonwealth in the California of the East.

    They must be stopped.

  • 2020-10-04 at 9:32 am

    Ms. Ray,
    You raise an interesting question. The Act seems to include this category with 11 other categories a business is expected not to discriminate against. (race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, medical conditions, age, marital status, disabilities or status as a veteran). If a hiring decision is challenged (as you describe in your letter) it would seem you better be able to justify it with using a couple of these “PREFERENCES”. Apparently the Governor is in favor of discrimination as long as you pick his choices for preference rather than who can do the job best based on the owners judgment. One of my first cases in New York was forcing a major company to rehire an openly gay person but in that case he was an excellent employee and under the business formula of marginal utility of labor he should never have had his employment threatened. In my opinion discrimination is always wrong but hiring is about business benefit not utilizing some governmental discriminatory preference as a hammer. How many times have we experienced job requirements which had nothing to do with the ability to do the job but rather it was merely a filter to allow subjective discrimination? Do all jobs REALLY need a college degree? Maybe if our local school system (which almost all teachers are female) would openly prefer male veterans we would be less fearful about school security. You raise a great topic. If the business doesn’t succeed the jobs don’t last! 🙂

  • 2020-10-04 at 5:06 pm

    This is clearly more government over-reach by Wreck-it-Ralph Northam.. It is already illegal to discriminate on various protected classes. This will backfire and will probably ultimately end up in the Supreme Court at some point. Let’s Get the latest nominee confirmed.

  • 2020-10-05 at 1:15 am

    Ms. Ray’s letter could have been written decades ago when the first laws were drafted that prohibited hiring discrimination involving black people or women. Unfortunately, in our society, it takes a law to make changes so that people are not judged based on factors where there is a long, established history of discrimination in this country. The history of this country demonstrates that discrimination is not overcome based on waiting for people to do the right thing.

    While you look at it from the point of view of a business person, you might want to consider it from the point of view of someone who does not get a job because they are black, pregnant, or gay. This person must also pay the costs of hiring an attorney to establish that discrimination is the cause for not getting the job. The best defense a business has is to document the reason for the failure to hire or the reason why someone else was chosen.

    There will be invalid claims. There are with every type of lawsuit filed. Personal injury comes to mind. There are also many instances where people claim that they are not discriminating when in fact they are.

    As for Mr. Ohneiser’s comments, they are rather strange coming from an attorney. An attorney knows the difference between the common use of the word discrimination and the legal use of the word. An employer can establish the qualifications that a person needs to have to be hired. There are many reasons why an employer may prefer someone with a college degree. It truly would be inappropriate for the government to start evaluating when it is appropriate to require a college degree. However, as a society, we determine that there is no good reason to not hire a woman, a black person or an LGBTQ person. Also, as an attorney, Mr. Ohneiser ought to know the difference between job discrimination and job preference. This law is not about openly preferring one class of people, such as male veterans. It is about choosing not to hire a male veteran for no other reason than that he is male or a veteran.

    Mr. Ohneiser might also do well to study a bit of American history before laws were created that prohibited discrimination based on certain irrelevant criteria. There was a time when there were signs in shop windows that said “No Irish need apply.” When my father returned from WWII, having lost his hand in the war, he had a hard time finding a job in his field, which was teaching, because he was “disabled.” There was no law against such discrimination. He was told openly that he would not be hired because not having one hand instead of two would be too traumatic for children. It was a perfectly acceptable reason for not hiring someone. It took a law to make it unacceptable. A study of American history in the last few decades would establish that businesses do not fail when they are prohibited from discriminatory hiring practices. Instead, they have a larger pool of of qualified applicants to choose from when they don’t allow their sometimes unconscious discriminatory attitudes to get in the way.

    When I attended the University of Chicago Law School, I was involved with filing a claim of discriminatory hiring practices again my own law school because there were no women or minorities on the faculty. The law school agreed to a settlement where certain hiring practices had to change. Since then, I am proud to say that President Barack Obama and Justice Elena Kagan both taught at the University of Chicago Law School. They may not be aware of the actions that a few students took during the 1970s but what we did produced long term change. Now, it is time to produce long term change for LGBTQ people.

    • 2020-10-05 at 8:46 am

      Indeed. The lawyers do seem to be in favor of this one, don’t they.

      Wonder why?

  • 2020-10-05 at 7:33 am

    So my wife, 8 months pregnant, interviews for a job which requires heavy lifting and climbing ladders; doesn’t get hired, and is able to sue?

  • 2020-10-05 at 11:24 am

    That is precisely what the Mrs. will be able to do CC. Don’t be fooled by the flowery non-sincere sounding concern for the gay community — This is about paying the trial lawyers back for their huge support of democrats.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act was weaponized by shake down artists going around to small business owners, threatening lawsuits, in exchange for payoffs. This will be the case here as well. It’s going to devastate the employment market, but that’s cool, because democrats love misery, despair, and broken lives.

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