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Summary of District of Columbia Laws


D.C. Human Rights Act

D.C. Code Ann. §§ 2.1402.11 et seq.

Prohibited Employment Discrimination Practices: The D.C. Human Rights Act aims to provide every individual with an equal opportunity to participate in "all aspects of life," including, but not limited to, employment.

(a) General. — It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice to do any of the following acts, wholly or partially for a discriminatory reason based upon the actual or perceived: 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, or credit information of any individual:

The law prohibits discrimination based on these protected categories in: (1) hiring, discharge, compensation, terms, conditions, and privileges (including promotions); (2) employment referrals and classifications; (3) job training, apprenticeships, and job advertisements. The law also makes it unlawful to take employment action for any reason that would not have been asserted but for a discriminatory purpose based on one of these protected categories. See D.C. Code Ann. § 2-1402.11.


  1. The law excludes practices that are "not intentionally devised or operated to contravene [its] prohibitions . . . [that] can be justified by a business necessity." D.C. Code Ann. § 2-1401.03- The term "business necessity" had been narrowly construed. 

  2. Religious, political, educational, and charitable organizations may give preference "to persons of the same religion or political persuasion as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious or political principles for which it is established and maintained." D.C. Code Ann. § 2.1401.03(b).

  3. Excluding hiring, other decisions based on a bona fide seniority system are permitted if they are not intended to evade the purpose of the law. See id. at § 2.1402.12

  4. Actions taken to carry out an affirmative action plan approved by the D.C. Office of Human Rights are excluded. See id. at § 2.1402.53.

Postings: Every employer (including all other persons subject to this Act) must conspicuously post in a location where business activity is conducted a notice prepared by the D.C. Office of Human Rights. The posting provides important provisions of the Act and information regarding filing a complaint. See D.C. Code Ann. § 2.1402.51.

Recordkeeping: All employers (including all others subject to the Act) must keep business records for six (6) months from the date which the record was made, or from the date of the action which the record describes - whichever is longer. The record must at least include application forms, sales and rental records, credit and reference reports, personnel records, and any other pertinent record relating to the status of the individual's rights and privileges under the Act.

If a discrimination charge has been filed against the employer, the employer must preserve all relevant records until a final disposition of the charge has occurred. All persons shall furnish the Office with such reports relating to the charges when required. The persons and properties identified in the reports submitted to the Office shall not be made public. See D.C. Code Ann. § 2.1402.52.

An employer is considered in compliance with the reporting requirements under Section 2.1402.13 if the employer has filed the EEO-1, EEO-2, or EEO-3 report with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the report is available to the Office. D.C. Mun. Regs. title 4, § 723.1.

Affirmative Action Plans: It is not unlawful to carry out an approved affirmative action plan. The Office of Human Rights obtains approval and the plan must be devised as a corrective response to past discriminatory practices as prohibited under the Act. The plans may also provide preferential treatment though it would otherwise be prohibited under the Act, as long as it is not devised to contravene the Act's intent.



DCMR Employment Guidelines 4.5

Discrimination on Credit Information now Prohibited in DC (The Spiggle Law Firm)

 DC Office of Human Rights Fact Sheet


updated mlo 7-1-18