WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: District of Columbia

Workplace Protections

Updated: 
May 7, 2019

Can an employer refuse to hire me because I am a victim?

If you are a victim or the family member of a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking, an employer cannot take certain actions against you based on the fact that:

  • you decided to take legal action, which includes getting ready for or participating in any civil or criminal legal case related to or resulting from domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking;
  • you got yourself physical or mental health services or counseling because of the incident; or
  • the abuser caused a disruption or made a threat to your employment relating to the domestic violence, sexual offense, or stalking that you or your family member experienced.1

The actions that an employer cannot take against you are:

  • failing or refusing to hire you;
  • firing you;
  • taking away compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, including a promotion; or
  • separating, limiting, or classifying you in a way that would deny you employment opportunities or negatively impact your employment status.2

1 D.C. Code § 2–1402.11(c-1)(1)
2 D.C. Code § 2–1402.11(c-1)(1), (a), (b)

Can an employer tell others about my situation?

If your employer shares any information about the fact that you or your family member are a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking, your employer is committing illegal discrimination against you. However, your employer would not be discriminating against you by sharing information about your status as a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking if:

  • you asked or gave written permission to your employer to share that information;
  • a court or administrative agency ordered your employer to share information about your status;
  • your employer is legally required to share information;
  • the information is shared with a law enforcement agency;
  • sharing information is needed to protect other employees from harm; or
  • sharing information is needed to provide you with an accommodation.1

1 D.C. Code § 2–1402.11(c-1)(3)(A)

What are my rights to feel safe and secure in the workplace?

If needed, your employer must make reasonable accommodations to make sure you are safe and secure if you are a victim or your family member is a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • being transferred;
  • being reassigned;
  • changing your schedule;
  • taking leave;
  • changing your work station;
  • changing your work telephone number or email address;
  • having locks installed at work;
  • getting help with documenting domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking that happened at your work; or
  • using another safety procedure in response to an incident or threat of domestic violence, a sexual offense or stalking.1

However, your employer does not have to provide the accommodation if it would cause an “undue hardship” to provide it.2 Providing an accommodation would be considered an undue hardship to your employer if it would be very difficult or expensive because of the size of your workplace, your employer’s financial situation, or the way your workplace operates.3

1 D.C. Code § 2–1402.11(c-1)(4)
2 D.C. Code § 2–1402.11(c-1)(2)
3 D.C. Code § 2–1402.11(c-1)(4)(B)