District of Columbia Termination (with Discharge) laws & HR compliance analysis

District of Columbia Termination (with Discharge): What you need to know

The District of Columbia (D.C.) is an “employment-at-will” district. Therefore, an employer may generally terminate an employment relationship at any time and for any reason. However, while this is true in theory, a number of D.C. statutes and several court decisions have established exceptions to employment at will.
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As a general rule, if a federal, state, or local law grants employees the right to engage in an activity or to enjoy a benefit, employees should never be disciplined, discharged, or otherwise retaliated against for requesting or attempting to do so.
To list a few key examples, state law prohibits employers from discharging employees for engaging in the following activities:
Discrimination complaints. Employers may not discipline or discharge employees for filing a complaint under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DC Code Sec. 2-1401.01 et seq.).
Garnishment. Employers may not discipline or discharge employees for having wages garnished to pay a judgment (DC Code Sec. 16-584).
Jury service. Employers may not discipline or discharge employees for receiving or responding to a summons, serving on a jury, or attending court for prospective jury service (DC Code Sec. 11-1913).
Leave—family and medical leave. Employers may not discipline or discharge employees for taking leave under the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act (DC Code Sec. 32-505) or the District of Columbia Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (DC Act 21-682).
Leave—paid sick leave. An employer shall not discharge or discriminate in any manner against an employee because the employee exercises the right to use paid leave granted by the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act ...

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