As of July 1, 2013, Virginia employers will not be required to release to third parties certain personal information relating to their current or former employees unless the release or disclosure is related to a judicial proceeding.  On March 18, 2013, the General Assembly approved an amendment to the Code of Virginia to add a new section (§ 40.1-28.7:4) which restricts third parties from compelling the disclosure and/or release of employee “personal identifying information.”  Personal identifying information means:  home telephone number; mobile telephone number; email address; shift times and/or work schedule.  According to the new law, such personal identifying information may only be disclosed about a current or former employee to a third party pursuant to a court order; a warrant issued by a judicial officer; a subpoena issued in a pending civil or criminal case; or by discovery in a civil case.

As a practical matter, we suggest that all employers – including those outside Virginia – implement and follow a neutral reference policy in which the employer will disclose to a former employee’s prospective employer only the employee’s employment dates and job title.