The Democrat-controlled Virginia legislature has voted to approve ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed change to the U.S. Constitution that was originally approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification in 1972. The amendment would prevent federal or state governments from denying equality of rights on the basis of sex. Virginia becomes the 38th state that at one point or another since 1972 has approved ratification of the amendment, thus reaching the three-fourths majority of all states needed to add the amendment to the Constitution.

But nothing is going to change for now, and probably not for some time into the future. As discussed in more detail below, there are major unresolved legal questions as to whether Virginia’s ratification approval is valid, and we are aware of at least three separate lawsuits that have been filed raising those questions.

Even assuming that the ERA is ultimately ratified, its impact on specific workplace issues is far from clear in light of significant legal and policy developments that have occurred since 1972. Indeed, it appears that the biggest impact of adopting the ERA on employment policy would be to make it harder for Congress or states to erode nondiscrimination protections that currently exist.

A copy of Virginia House Joint Resolution 1 approving ratification of the ERA is available online.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.