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September 2022: Washington D.C Expands Antidiscrimination Protections

29 Sep

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Update Applicable to:
All employers in Washington D.C.

What happened?
On July 25, 2022, Mayor Bowser signed D.C Act 24-491, also known as the “Human Rights Enhancement Act” into law. This act amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 by adding homelessness as a protected class.

What are the details?
Effective October 1, 2022, homeless status will be included as a protected characteristic under D.C’s human rights law, alongside other protected characteristics such as sex, race, and national origin. This means employers should not inquire about an applicant’s or employee’s living situation or use that information when making employment decisions.

Harassment Definitions
DC law now defines harassment as conduct that is based on a protected characteristic and either:

  • Unreasonably alters the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or
  • Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Likewise, sexual harassment is now defined as the conduct of a sexual nature when one or more of the following is true:

  • It unreasonably alters the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,
  • It has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment,
  • Submitting to the conduct is made a term or condition of employment, or
  • Submitting to or rejecting the conduct is the basis for an employment decision (e.g., promotion or termination).

The harassment definitions depart from the general standard by omitting the requirement that the offending conduct is “severe or pervasive.” Instead, the DC harassment standard considers all the circumstances involved, which is a lower bar.

Independent Contractor Protections
DC’s antidiscrimination protections now also apply to independent contractors.

For more information, please see the links below:

D.C Act 24-491

Protected Traits in Washington D.C

News Article

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and educate their managers so that they do not discriminate against any homeless applicants or employees.


This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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