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Employment Laws in the District of Columbia

POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND ABOUT THE EMPLOYMENT LAWS

IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

D.C. Discrimination Laws Offer Broader Protections Against Discrimination.

SCOPE: The Federal Laws: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). American With Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) and Uniformed Services and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994S (USERRA) prohibit the following types of Discrimination:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Age and
  • Disability.
  • Genetic Information
  • Returning Veterans

The District of Columbia Human Rights Act, (DCHRA) however prohibits these same categories of discrimination and also specifically prohibits discrimination for the following reasons:

  • Marital Status
  • Personal Appearance
  • Sexual orientation
  • Familial Status
  • Family Responsibilities
  • Matriculation
  • Political Affiliation
  • Source of Income
  • Place of Residence or Business.

DC HUMAN RIGHTS ACT COVERS MORE EMPLOYERS.

The federal laws against employment discrimination apply only to employers that employ fifteen (15) or more employees. The DCHRA applies to employers of only one (1) employee.

DC HUMAN RIGHTS ACT HAS NO CAPS ON EMOTIONAL AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES.

Depending upon the size of the employer the Federal law has caps on Emotional and Punitive Damages ranging from $50,000 to $300,000. Under the DCHRA there are no caps on emotional and punitive damages.

DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS REGARDING THE FILING OF A COMPLAINT WITH THE DC OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE EEOC.

The Federal laws against discrimination require the complainant to first go to the DC Office of Human Rights and the EEOC before the complainant can file suit and request a jury trial before the United States District Court. Under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act the complainant is not required to first file a complaint with the DC Office of Human Rights; the individual may, if he or she wants, file suit in the District of Columbia Superior Court.

BROADER FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT PROTECTIONS UNDER THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA LAW.

MORE LEAVE:

Employees who qualify for Family Medical Leave under the Federal FMLA are limited to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave. The District of Columbia FMLA, however, allows qualifying employees to sixteen (16) weeks of unpaid Medical Leave and sixteen (16) weeks of unpaid Family Leave.

DCFMALA APPLIES TO MORE EMPLOYERS:

The Federal FMLA applies to employers of fifty (50) or more employees whereas the DCFMLA applies to employers of twenty (20) employees. To qualify under either the Federal or the DC law the individual must have first worked for the employer for one year.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA REQUIRES PAID SICK AND SAFE LEAVE.

Depending on the size of the employer, the District of Columbia under the Accrued and Sick Leave Act requires employers of 24 or more employees to provide from 3 to 6 days of paid sick leave to employees who have worked for more than 90 days and the accrual of leave commences from the date of employment.

  • an employer with 100 or more employees must provide one hour of paid leave for every 37 hours an employee works, not to exceed 7 days a year;
  • an employer with 25 to 99 employees must provide one hour of paid leave for every 43 hours an employee works, not to exceed 5 days a year; and
  • an employer with 24 or fewer employees must provide one hour of paid leave for every 87 hours an employee works, not to exceed 3 days a year.
    DC HAS VERY STRONG WAGE LAWS.

SOME KEY FEATURES OF THE DC WAGE LAWS:

  • The minimum wage in the District of Columbia is $9.50 as compared with the federal minimum wage of $7.25; there are exceptions, for example, for tipped workers if base pay and tips equal the minimum wage, students in high school and college during their first 90 days of employment, and certain disabled workers.
  • The Statute of Limitations for failure to pay the minimum wage and/or overtime is three years.
  • The Penalty for failing to pay minimum wage or overtime can be three times the amount of the required unpaid wages.
  • If the employee prevails attorneys’ fees and expenses can be awarded. (The fees are to be based on what is referred to as the adjusted Laffey Matrix.)
  • DC employers must at the time of hire provide detailed information including the rate of pay and basis of the rate, for example by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, or commission; overtime pay rate and exemptions from overtime.)
  • DC employers must post a copy of a summary of the law; failure to post the required notice tolls the running of the statute of limitations.
  • DC employers must retain time records for at least three years and longer if the federal standard is longer.
  • Employees are protected from retaliation if employee complains or is believed by his/her employer to have complained to DC or the federal government, provides information to DC or federal authorities or testifies.
  • Retaliation is presumed if an adverse action is taken against an employee within 90 days of the employee’s engaging in any of the these activities.
  • Employees may bring class actions under the DC wage-and-hour laws and for failure to pay wages owed.