“State delegate joins business owners in lawsuit challenging Virginia’s virus workplace safety regulations”

September 22, 2020 | By Kate Masters |  Virginia Mercury |

A server brings food to customers on the patio at Plaza Azteca in Henrico, Va., May 16, 2020. (Parker Michels-Boyce/ For the Virginia Mercury)

“A state delegate joined the Virginia Manufacturers Association and other business owners to challenge emergency COVID-19 safety regulations adopted by the state’s Safety and Health Codes Board in July.

In a Sept. 15 filing with the Richmond Circuit Court, Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, argued that he has been “uniquely harmed” by executive actions taken by the board, Gov. Ralph Northam, and state Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver.

Other parties in the lawsuit include Leon Benjamin Sr., ,a pastor at New Life Harvest Church in Richmond, and Jon Tigges, a Loudoun County vineyard and venue owner who previously — and unsuccessfully — challenged Northam’s executive orders during the pandemic.

“In many ways, the measures go too far,” said LaRock, who has previously supported legal challenges to overturn the governor’s executive orders but has never before become a party to one. “Certainly, some measures would be in order, but I think the governor could have done a lot better to create the least restrictive regulations.”

The lawsuit aims to halt the state’s emergency temporary standards for businesses, calling them “impermissibly vague” and arguing that the board failed to follow administrative processes laid out in state law.

It also argues the regulations incorporate several “illegal” executive orders issued by Northam throughout the pandemic — including an indoor mask mandate and phased social restrictions — and seeks to challenge them in the context of the new standards.

The suit was filed against Northam, Oliver, the Safety and Health Codes Board, and C. Ray Davenport, the state’s commissioner of labor and industry.”


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