OHR issues notice on Human Rights Act amendments
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GLAA on Human Rights

OHR issues notice on Human Rights Act amendments

[Note from GLAA: The DC Council website originally indicated that the DC Human Rights Amendment Act of 2002 would become effective on September 25, 2002. It subsequently revised the expected effective date to October 1, 2002. This discrepancy is caused by changes to the congressional calendar, which controls the effective date of all District laws as they must first undergo a congressional review period.]


GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Office of Human Rights
Nadine Chandler Wilburn
Interim Director

MEMORANDUM

TO: All Agency Directors
All Equal Employment Opportunity Counselors

FROM: Nadine Chandler Wilburn
Interim Director, Office of Human Rights

DATE: September 24, 2002

SUBJECT: Amendments to the D.C. Human Rights Act

This memorandum serves as notice of amendments to the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (Act), D.C. Act 14-399, which were recently passed by the City Council. The amendments are currently pending review by Congress and are expected to take effect on tomorrow, September 25, 2002.

The Act has been amended as follows:

  1. It is an unlawful discriminatory practice to discriminate against a person "perceived" to be in any of the Act's protected categories. Prior to the amendment, the Act protected actual members of a protected category and not persons perceived to be in a protected category;

  2. Harassment of persons on the basis of any protected category is prohibited;

  3. District government employees are no longer required to exhaust administrative remedies before filing a civil lawsuit under the Act. District employees may elect to either file a lawsuit directly with the court, or file a claim with the Office of Human Rights (OHR) ;

  4. The timely filing of a complaint with the OHR or with an agency's Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor tolls the Act's one-year statute of limitations;

  5. Education institutions are prohibited from unlawful discrimination when providing benefits and activities of institution programs; and

  6. District of Columbia agencies and offices are defined as places of "public accommodation" under the Act and are prohibited from engaging in unlawful discrimination in its programs, services, benefits or facilities.

Equal Employment Opportunity Counselors may pick up a copy of the amended Act from the receptionist at the OHR, 441 4th Street, N.W., 570N, today or at another convenient time.

The amendments to the Act, will in turn mean that the recently amended Executive Order 2002-149 on Uniform Language in D.C. Government Anti-Discrimination Issuances and Equal Employment Opportunity Notices (Executive Order) must be amended again, to include both the "actual or perceived" language and a statement that harassment based on any of the protected categories is prohibited by the Act. Because of the proximity of the October 21, 2002, Oversight Hearing on agencies' compliance with the Executive Order, even if the Executive Order is amended before October 21st, agencies will be given an opportunity to comply with any additional amendments and will not be expected to alter documents to comply with these amendments prior to the October 21st hearing.

Please feel free to contact me at 727-4559, if I can answer any questions regarding this matter.

NCW


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