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The Current State of DC Employment Laws

  • By: lipplaw
    Published: February 2, 2021
DC Employment Law Changes

The Lipp Law Firm’s attorneys represent employers across the DC metropolitan area.  This article focuses on the various employment laws, some of which are recently updated or new, relevant to District of Columbia employers.  If you have any questions about whether your business is complaint, or if your company is accused of violating these laws, Lipp Law is available to guide you.

DC Human Rights Act

The DC Human Rights Act (DCHRA) prohibits discrimination based on 17 different protected traits.  The DCHRA covers more employers than its federal equivalent, Title VII, as the DCHRA applies to employers with as few as one employee.  The most recently added protected trait safeguards employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual offenses, or stalking.  The other protected traits include: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation, political affiliation, and credit information.

Unemployed Anti-Discrimination Act

The Unemployed Anti-Discrimination Act (UADA) prohibits employers from refusing to consider or hire applicants because of their unemployment status.  The UADA also prohibits retaliation against an employee for reporting or opposing a violation of the Act.  Any claim against an employer under the UADA is administrative and must be filed with the Office of Human Rights.

Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PPWFA) applies to employers with one or more employees who are unable to perform their job duties because of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or a related medical condition.  The PPWFA prohibits an employer from: refusing accommodations, taking adverse action against an employee, refusing to return an employee to the same or equivalent job, denying employment opportunities, and requiring employees to accept an accommodation or take leave.

DC Parental Leave Act

The DC Parental Leave Act permits parents and guardians to take 24 hours of leave during a 12-month period to attend school-related events for which the child is a participant or subject of the event.

DC Family Medical Leave Act of 1990

The DC Family Medical Leave Act of 1990 (DCFMLA) applies to employers with 20 or more employees.  DCFMLA permits 16 weeks of family leave and 16 weeks of medical leave over a 24-month cycle.  The federal Family Medial Leave Act only permits 12 weeks of family and medical leave over a 12-month cycle.

A new type of leave was added, which is separate from family and medical leave, called COVID leave.  During a declared state of public health emergency, an employee is entitled to up to 16 weeks of COVID leave to care for him- or herself, family or household member, or a child affected by childcare closure.  COVID leave covers employers of any size, and an employee is eligible after having worked for the employer for 30 days.

Universal Paid Leave Act

The Universal Paid Leave Act (UPLA) went into effect in July 2020, and since 2019, it has required employers to contribute payroll taxes into a paid leave program.  UPLA benefits are administered by the DC government.  The benefit includes up to 8 weeks of paid leave for events related to the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, up to 6 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition, and up to 2 weeks to care for the employee’s own serious health condition.  An employee may receive up to 8 weeks total of UPLA benefits per year.

Fair Criminal Records Screening Amendment Act

The Fair Criminal Records Screening Amendment Act (FCRSA) prohibits employers from asking questions about arrest records, charges or criminal accusations, or convictions before a conditional offer of employment.  Likewise, employers may only inquire into an applicant’s criminal convictions after a conditional offer of employment.  When an employer withdraws an offer of employment based on such inquiry, it must balance 6 factors to determine if the withdrawal is a legitimate business interest.  Like the UASA described above, a FCRSA claim may only be filed administratively with the Office of Human Rights.

Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Act

Beginning in January 2020, the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Act was implemented, and it requires employers to provide and report sexual harassment training for tipped wage workers.  Failure to provide or report the training can result in hefty fines.


There is some overlap between DC’s employment laws, and there is also overlap between DC and federal employment laws.  If you have any questions about how these laws work together or affect your company, Lipp Law is here to help.

Kathryn Megan Lipp

Katie dedicates her practice to employment separation guidance.
Based on her successful employment litigation practice...Read More