People can be victims of discrimination in a number of ways. Sometimes it comes from how you are treated by a business. Most frequently, it comes in the form of employment discrimination where you are denied employment or your job is affected by the discriminatory treatment of an employer.
While discrimination victims have the federal Title VII statute at their disposal, District of Columbia discrimination victims have a better weapon to wield in their fight for justice. The District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA) is the most comprehensive anti-discrimination law in the United States. If you are a victim of discrimination in the District of Columbia, you should consult with a District of Columbia discrimination lawyer as soon as possible.
Bruckheim & Patel is experienced with DCHRA. Attorney Michael Bruckheim previously worked in the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights as an attorney advisor handling employment discrimination. Mr. Bruckheim brings his understanding to the firm in bringing a case under the DCHRA to maximize your potential for damages. Our firm will help you bring justice if you have been a victim of discrimination.
How Does the DCHRA Work?
The DCHRA protects all individuals who live, visit or work in DC from discrimination. Most prominently, this includes protection for DC employees from discrimination from job opportunities, current employment, and advancement of employment. The DCHRA also protects DC individuals from discrimination in housing, education, and public accommodation.
The DCHRA makes discrimination illegal based on 21 protected traits. These traits include:
race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, disability, matriculation, familial status, source of income, genetic information, place of residence or business, status as victim of intrafamily offense, credit information, status as victim or family member of victim of domestic violence, sexual offense, or stalking.
Employment Discrimination and Retaliation
The DCHRA protects DC workers from discrimination in decisions related to all aspects of employment such as hiring, firing, promotions, benefits and payment, job training, and apprenticeship. The DCHRA also forbids “retaliation.” Retaliation is an employer punishing an employee for making a complaint or for coercing of threatening an employee not to file a complaint.
An employer is defined as an organization or anyone that pays another to do work. If an employment decision is made in DC, but the work is not completed in DC, an employee still can make a claim under the DCHRA.
Filing a Complain for Discrimination Under DCHRA
Plaintiffs have one (1) year from the occurrence or discovery of discrimination to file a complaint under the DCHRA. Plaintiffs can make a claim through the DC Office of Human Rights or a plaintiff can file directly in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Filing in court is typically recommended as it allows a plaintiff to get directly to court without any prerequisites for filing. The DCHRA allows for individual liability in addition to employer liability. This means that supervisors who discriminate can be individually sued along with the employer itself.
Damages in Employment Discrimination
The DCHRA allows the award of damages for any relief the Court deems appropriate. This is incredibly broad and opens all possibilities of damages under the DCHRA. In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and future lost wages, monetary damages can include awards for attorney’s fees, litigation costs, and civil penalties. Punitive damages can be awarded if the plaintiff proves actual malice or ill intent in the discrimination. The DCHRA also allows for corrective employment action such as hiring, re-hiring, reinstating, or promoting.
Perhaps the best advantage of the DCHRA as opposed to suing under Title VII is that there is no limit on the compensatory damages available to the plaintiff. The Court can order damages for any amount it deems appropriate.
The DCHRA is the most expansive anti-discrimination law in the United States. It affords significant protections to victims of discrimination in the District of Columbia. In order to successfully make a claim, it is important to hire a DC discrimination attorney to walk you through your options.