The District of Columbia Human Rights Act prohibits the use of an application form that discriminates on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation, or political affiliation (DC Code Sec. 2-1402.11). Exceptions are made for business necessities (DC Code Sec. 2-1401.03). A business necessity exception is applicable only where it can be proved that, without this exception, business could not be conducted. The Act covers all employers in the District regardless of size.
“Matriculation” means the individual's status at the time of application or employment, such as enrolled in college, professional or vocational school, or in an adult education program.
“Personal appearance” means the outward appearance of someone such as beard, long or short hair, manner or style of dress, but is not related to the requirement of cleanliness, uniforms, or prescribed standards when uniformly applied to a class of employees. In other words, an employer is not subject to a claim of discrimination where an employee is admonished for not adhering to personal hygiene standards or a dress code.
A separate law also prohibits discrimination against individuals for lawful use of tobacco products (DC Code Sec. 7-1703.03). Questions about an applicant's tobacco use should likewise be avoided.
The BNE allows an employer to make an employment inquiry about one of the protected characteristics only in cases in which an employer can prove that its business cannot be conducted ...