[The bill discussed in this blog did not pass. If you have further questions on this topic, please contact the author by calling 866.617.4736 or by using our online contact form.]
A person may file a claim with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission to allege that he or she was the victim of unlawful employment discrimination. By statute, the Commission is required to conduct an investigation into the allegations if the Commission has reason to believe that an unlawful discriminatory practice has been committed.
HB 2202, if enacted, would specifically require the Commission's investigation to inquire into the intent of the person or organization alleged to have engaged in a discriminatory practice(s). Though not all claims submitted to the Commission evolve into civil claims, the Commission's findings as to an employer's "intent" could become a significant piece of evidence if an administrative complaint later develops into a civil claim in Circuit Court. Proof of discrimination in a civil claim requires proof of the employer's intent. Though there are many ways an employee can attempt to prove a discriminatory intent, an underlying finding by the Commission will likely be persuasive as to whether a jury would later find evidence of intent, or a lack thereof.