Federal, state, and local laws protect you from employment discrimination but discrimination and retaliation still occur in workplaces across Washington, D.C. and Virginia. When employers discriminate against you based on protected classes or retaliate against you for reporting discriminatory practices, your professional future is at stake, and you need an experienced civil rights attorney from S.L. England, PLLC, to fight for you.
Several Federal laws protect you from employment discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects you from employment discrimination –whether you are an established employee or a job applicant – based on your race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This act covers all the terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting practices, promotions, and terminations.
Civil Rights Act of 1991 expands the civil rights provided in Title VII. This act gives employees the right to a jury trial for discrimination claims and allows employees to seek emotional distress damages. It also allows employees to seek compensatory and punitive damages for sexual harassment.
Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects you from wage discrimination based on your sex. At any establishment, wages and benefits must be equal for all employees who perform substantially the same work with the same qualifications. This covers all forms of compensation, including regular wages, benefits, paid time off, stock options, overtime, and bonuses. Equal pay is based on the content of the employee's job, not their job title. Pay differential is allowed based on an employee's seniority or work quality.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 builds on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by specifying that each paycheck that contains discriminatory compensation is a separate violation.
Age Discrimination Act of 1967 protects employees age 40 and older from age-based employment discrimination. This act does allow employers to favor older workers based on age, even if the decision adversely affects younger workers. Employers may ask job applicants for their age or date of birth, but may not use that information in any discriminatory way.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 amends the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 to prohibit employers from denying benefits to employees over age 40. Because the cost of providing benefits for older employees costs more than providing benefits for younger employees, the act provides that, in limited circumstances, an employer may reduce an employee's benefits based on their age, but only if the cost of providing the reduced benefits to the older employee is the same as the cost of providing benefits to a younger employee.
The Family Medical Leave Act gives employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of non-paid leave to care for a family member during a calendar year, or up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a military service member with a serious illness or injury.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prevents your employer from discriminating against you based on your genetic information. Your employer cannot make employment decisions based on genetic information, and they cannot request, require, or purchase current or potential employees' genetic information.
Virginia Human Rights Act
In Virginia, the Virginia Human Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability.
The Division of Human Rights investigates allegations of discrimination in the workplace. Employers with six to 14 employees are under state jurisdiction, while those with more than 15 employees are under federal jurisdiction.
The Division of Human Rights has an agreement with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate and make determinations regarding Title VII violations. You must file within 180 days of the date the discrimination occurred. You may be able to reach a settlement with your employer through the Division of Human Rights or EEOC investigation.
If you have been discriminated against, you can file a lawsuit against your employer in either a general district or circuit court after your administrative remedies through the Department of Human Rights or the EEOC have been exhausted.
The timeline for filing a lawsuit against your employer is short. You must bring action against your employer within 300 days of your discharge from employment, or within 90 days of the final disposition of a Division of Human Rights investigation. If you win this lawsuit, the Court will not order your employer to reinstate you to your position.
D.C. Human Rights Law
In Washington, D.C., the D.C. Human Rights Law expands employment protection based on several protected traits, including:
- Race (your ancestry or ethnicity)
- Color (your skin pigmentation or complexion)
- Religion (your belief system)
- National Origin (the area your ancestors came from)
- Sex (includes sexual harassment, pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions, breastfeeding, and reproductive health decisions)
- Marital Status
- Personal Appearance (your employer may not discriminate based on your outward appearance, but may still set requirements or standards for grooming or dress)
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity or Expression (your behavior, appearance, expression, or behavior)
- Family Responsibilities (supporting dependents, including, but not limited to, your children, grandchildren, or parents)
- Political Affiliation
- Disability (any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits your major life activities including HIV/AIDS)
- Matriculation (your enrollment in college, university, or other secondary school)
- Genetic Information (Your DNA or family medical history that may show you are predisposed to a disease or illness)
- Credit Information (your creditworthiness, credit standing, or credit history)
The statute of limitations for filing a claim with the D.C. Office of Human Rights or the EEOC is 300 days from the date of discrimination. You can also file a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court, and the Court can grant any relief it deems appropriate.
Have You Been Discriminated Against By Your Employer?
If you have been discriminated against by an employer in Virginia or Washington, D.C., you need aggressive legal representation from S.L. England, PLLC. Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your civil rights and can fight for you in any court. Call us today at (202) 489-0720 or contact us online.