The city of Virginia Beach has added gender identity to its anti-discrimination and equal employment policies.
Human Resources Director Regina Hilliard said Friday that the addition was made during a larger revision in October that combined the city’s equal employment opportunity and employee complaint procedures.
Michael Berlucchi, a member of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission and the president of Hampton Roads Pride, said by email that he applauds the city for the addition. He said he believes the change will help Virginia Beach keep its reputation as a leader in the region for promoting diversity and inclusion.
“According to statistics released by the Human Rights Campaign, over half of LGBT employees hide their identity in the workplace because of fear of discrimination or harassment,” he wrote. “That statistic is frightening.”
Berlucchi said he hopes other businesses in the area follow Virginia Beach’s example, writing that it “is good for the bottom line, and it’s the right thing to do.”
City policy now defines discrimination as “an illegal practice, procedure or treatment of a person, or group of persons, based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, genetics, disability, age and military status.”
It also includes gender identity as something that city employees cannot discriminate against while conducting business. If employees feel they are being harassed because of their gender identity, they can notify Human Resources, which will then investigate the allegation.
Hilliard said the larger policy update is helpful for employees in general because it put information about filing a complaint and the city’s equal employment opportunity language in the same place.