Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Passes General Assembly, Headed to Governor’s Desk

Legislation will Protect Domesitc Workers from Harrasment and Discrimination

The Virginia General Assembly has passed The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights extending the Virginia Human Rights Act and workplace health and safety protections to domestic workers. 

On Friday February 19, 2021, the House passed Senator Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) SB1310, an omnibus bill. Today, the House accepted technical Senate amendments to Delegates Marcia Price’s (D-Newport News) HB 1864. Both bills now head to the Governor’s desk.

Under Virginia law – a relic of Jim Crow-era policies – domestic workers are not entitled to the same protections as other workers under the Virginia Human Rights Act and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. McClellan’s and Price’s bills remove these exemptions and protect domestic workers. 

“This is a huge step forward to provide stronger workers rights and a safer workplace for 60,000 Virginia domestic workers,” Sen. McClellan said. “As the daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of domestic workers, I know how essential domestic workers are to the economy and how poorly mistreated they’ve been for generations. Today, the Virginia General Assembly took action to reverse Jim Crow-era laws and expand protections for domestic workers. Thank you to Care in Action, Delegate Price, and all the advocates who led this long-needed change in workplace policy.” 

“The pandemic has made it very clear how society has undervalued and mistreated some workers. Domestic workers cook, clean, help raise our children, and care for our loved ones,” said Del. Price.  “It is a tough and often overlooked job, but the work they do is vital to making all other work possible. This workforce has kept this country running for 400 years and I am happy to have played a role in ensuring they are finally protected under the law. Virginia is sending a clear message that we believe there is value and dignity in all work.”

“Care in Action is thrilled Virginia has taken the most important step in protecting domestic workers – a workforce that has upheld our economy for hundreds of years. Even during a raging pandemic, domestic workers organized to make Virginia the first state in the South to pass a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights,” said Alexsis Rodgers, Virginia State Director for Care in Action. “Under this historic legislation, more than 60,000 nannies, cleaners, and homecare workers, who are overwhelming Black and immigrant women, will finally have their labor recognized and their rights protected. We are extremely grateful for Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Del. Cia Price for being in this fight with us and being care champions for every domestic worker in the commonwealth.”

Domestic workers – predominantly Black and Latina women – have suffered some of the worst economic consequences of the pandemic. More than 90% of Spanish-speaking domestic workers lost their jobs, and 75% of all domestic workers did not receive compensation when their jobs were canceled. 

This legislation builds on McClellan’s 2020 bill that made domestic workers eligible for the minimum wage that took effect July 1, 2020. A companion bill from Delegate Price was incorporporated into Delegate Jeion Ward’s bill increasing the minimum wage.