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Washington D.C. Employment Law Blog

Former House staff member alleges sexual harassment

It goes without saying that workers in Washington, D.C., should not be subject to harassment that is sexual in nature, especially by a superior. Unfortunately, such incidents take place every day and can have a serious effect on a worker's rights and wellbeing. The worker may suffer emotionally, experiencing anything from fear to shame to embarrassment to degradation. For example, one former staff member of a U.S. Representative is seeking compensation after reportedly being sexually harassed.

Pregnant workers have rights in Washington, D.C.

Pregnancy is certainly seen as a blessing for many expectant parents in Washington, D.C. However, it is not unheard of for a woman to be discriminated against in the workplace due to the fact that she is pregnant or has recently given birth. The government of Washington, D.C., has recognized this issue. In fact, the Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014 has been enacted to ensure that pregnant workers' rights in the workplace are upheld.

Filing a workplace discrimination complaint in Washington, D.C.

Individuals in Washington, D.C., who believes they have been illegally discriminated against may not know how to proceed. Not only may these individuals be in a hostile work environment, but they may fear losing their jobs if they speak out against the workplace discrimination. It is a difficult situation to be in.

Fighting back against national origin discrimination

Despite laws aimed at preventing workplace discrimination, it is an unfortunate fact that such discrimination is still an issue in many workplaces in Washington, D.C. Recently, a previous post here discussed discrimination in the workplace based on national origin. Workplace discrimination based on national origin has been against the law since the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After all, a person's birthplace, culture or the language he or she speaks should never factor into how that person is treated while on-the-job.

What is "national origin" discrimination in Washington, D.C.?

One of the wonderful things about the United States is the ability of a person from another country to be able to immigrate to the U.S. and eventually become an American citizen. Many immigrants and the generations thereafter who are born in the United States are hard workers. Unfortunately, some people in Washington, D.C., are discriminated against in the workplace due to their national origin. National origin discrimination can be based on a person's accent, looks or even simply because the worker was born in another country.

Medical leave and the D.C. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act

In a previous post we looked at the story of a worker in Washington, D.C. who was denied benefits based on her classification as an independent contractor. The question arose as to whether that worker was properly classified. In this post, we are going to examine what medical leave may be available to an employee in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, Washington, D.C. also has a law regarding sick leave and compensation. Under the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, employees may, in some circumstances, be entitled to paid time off for an illness or for safety reasons, based on the size of the employer. The leave may be requested due to an illness or for preventative care reasons for either the employee or the employee's family members. In fact, the leave may also be requested for the employee to seek the help needed if the employee is being stalked or is the victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault.

Worker in Washington, D.C., alleges misclassification

The difference between an independent contractor and an employee in Washington, D.C., is crucial. In general, companies are not required to provide independent contractors with the same benefits they offer to employees. However, this can present difficult issues when a worker challenges a classification as an independent contractor. Take, for example, the story of one worker who was denied benefits for being classified as an independent contractor rather than as a government employee, and was ultimately let go from her job.

Understanding current wage and hour laws

Employment is an important part of the lives of most people, which is why ensuring workers understand their rights is important. The minimum wage in Washington, D.C. recently increased to $10.50 an hour. The recent increase in Washington, D.C.'s minimum wage is part of an overall plan and recent law to increase Washington, D.C.'s minimum wage to $11.50 per hour by 2016. It was estimated that 64,000 workers in Washington, D.C. earn less than $11.50 per hour and were impacted by the recent change. The increase makes Washington, D.C.'s minimum wage amongst the highest in the country.

In addition to minimum wage laws, and according to Washington, D.C. labor laws, employers are required to pay employees one and half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked during a work week in excess of 40 hours. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. But, workers who do not receive overtime pay they have earned, or who are misclassified, may have different resources and options available to them to ensure they are properly compensated for their hard work and efforts.

What is sexual harassment and what can I do about it?

It is likely that you are familiar with the term sexual harassment but may wonder what it technically refers to. In general, it is not lawful to harass an individual because of the individual's sex. Sexual harassment can include different types. One type of sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature.

Another type of sexual harassment is considered behavior that creates a hostile work environment. Offensive remarks related to an individual's sex can also be considered sexual harassment. It is unlawful to make offensive comments to a woman about women in general which can be considered harassment. The frequency and severity of the harassment can serve to determine if it creates and offensive or hostile work environment. In addition, harassment can be considered unlawful sexual harassment if an employee suffers a demotion or firing as a result of the harassment.

Employees have important rights when retaliated against

A job plays a central role in the lives of most people, making job security an important concern. Employees who have reported wrongdoing in the workplace should not fear or suffer retaliation. Employers, unfortunately, may take improper and inappropriate retaliatory actions against employees who report wrongdoing related to illegal activity; inadequate safety; discrimination; sexual harassment; or a hostile work environment. Employees may also suffer retaliation for refusing to violate the law at the direction of the employer.

Workplace retaliation can occur in different forms. It can include workplace harassment or wrongful termination. Unfortunately, retaliation can also take the form of poor treatment at work. Retaliation can include demotions; refusals to promote or hire; reducing the employee's benefits; or the breach of an employee's employment contract.

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