While researching the District of Columbia (DC) Sexual Discrimination Law in the Workplace, I found that they have their own human rights law to protect their employees.
The District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA) applies to employees, employers, labor organizations and employment agencies. Employees are any individuals who are either working or applying for job for an employer as defined below except for those employed by their parents, spouse or children or those in domestic service positions. Employers are any individuals who compensate an employee for work done.
Under the DCHRA, employers cannot discriminate on the basis of gender. This includes firing and refusing to hire as well as any practice the treats individuals unfairly based on gender. The DCHRA does state that its main purpose is to execute the federal discrimination law (Title VII), but it does go a bit further on some topics. First of all, while the federal law only applies to employers who have fifteen or more employees, the DCHRA refers to employers with as few as one employee. It also makes it illegal for people in the workplace other than the employer to participate in or encourage discrimination – supervisors and co-workers can be held liable along with the employer.
Another difference between Title VII and the DCHRA is that under the DCHRA, you get one full year from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a complaint. To file a claim with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (DCOHR) you need to make an appointment for an interview as well as complete a complaint form.
The DCOHR first attempts mediation to resolve the issue, but if you are unable to reach an agreement, the DCOHR will decide if there is enough evidence to keep the case open. If there is enough information to claim “probably cause”, the complaint will be taken to a public hearing where three members of the Commission hear the case and make the decision.
Also different from the federal law is the fact that you can file a private suit directly with the D.C. courts, but by doing so you give up your right to take the complaint through the DCOHR. However, if you want to take the case to the federal courts, you must first get a “Right to Sue” letter from the EEOC.
Employers and employees alike must take the time to find out what their rights and responsibilities are under the DCHRA to keep the workplace a safe place for everyone. Employers can aid in this process by posting an up-to-date District of Columbia Labor Law poster in the workplace.