Workers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia have broader protections against workplace sexual harassment than under federal law, and there are different deadlines that workers should be aware of to preserve their sexual harassment claims.

District of Columbia

How are DC sexual harassment protections different from federal protections?

  • DC law provides greater protection and remedies for sexual harassment or assault in the workplace than federal law.
  • For example, while federal law prohibits sexual harassment only for employers with 15 or more employees, DC law applies to qualifying employers of any size.
  • District of Columbia law provides for individual liability, meaning aggrieved employees can sue not just their employer but any individual who aided and abetted the wrongdoing.
  • District of Columbia law also protects independent contractors and unpaid interns from sexual harassment, not just those classified as employees as is the case under federal law.
  • Finally, federal law caps an employee’s recovery of compensatory and punitive damages at $300,000, while District of Columbia law does not have a cap on what workers who prevail can recover.

How can I report sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace in the District of Columbia?

  • You have several avenues to report sexual harassment or sexual assault in the District of Columbia
  • If you have suffered workplace sexual harassment or assault, you can report the misconduct to your employer. District of Columbia law and federal law prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who file a complaint of sexual harassment.
  • Beyond reporting the conduct directly to your employer, you have three options for reporting sexual harassment or assault you have faced in the workplace in the District of Columbia: you may file a complaint with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), or you may go straight to court and file a lawsuit under D.C. law.
  • Choosing which route to pursue is a delicate strategic decision. We recommend consulting with an attorney to determine the best course of action for you.

I was sexually harassed or assaulted a long time ago. Do I still have a claim in the District of Columbia?

  • You might.
  • The D.C. Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018 extended the statutes of limitations for civil actions based on conduct constituting sexual abuse. “Sexual abuse” refers to definitions set forth in the District of Columbia’s criminal laws.  First degree sexual abuse, for example, occurs when someone uses force or threats to cause someone to engage in a sexual act.   If the sexual abuse occurred when you were under the age of 35, you have up to the date you attain the age of 40 years, or 5 years from when you knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting sexual abuse, whichever is later.  If the sexual abuse occurred when you were over the age of 35, you have 5 years, or 5 years from when you knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting sexual abuse, whichever is later.
  • Under District of Columbia law, you have one year to file a charge with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights or in court. For coverage under federal law, a charge must be filed within 300 days of the sexual harassment.
  • But there are certain circumstances that can extend those deadlines. You also may have related claims under different laws.  It is safest to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to learn whether you still have live claims.

Where can I get more information about workplace sexual harassment in the District of Columbia?

The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights provides information about workplace sexual harassment under D.C. law.

Maryland

How are Maryland sexual harassment protections different from federal protections?

  • Maryland law provides greater protection and remedies for sexual harassment or assault in the workplace than federal law.
  • For example, while federal law prohibits sexual harassment only for employers with 15 or more employees, Maryland law allows employees to file complaints alleging sexual harassment against employers with one or more employees.
  • Maryland law also protects independent contractors from sexual harassment, not just those classified as employees as is the case under federal law.
  • Unlike federal law, Maryland law does not require a worker to show that harassment was “severe or pervasive” to state a claim.

How can I report sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace in Maryland?

  • You have several avenues to report sexual harassment or sexual assault in Maryland
  • If you have suffered workplace sexual harassment or assault, you can report the misconduct to your employer. Maryland law and federal law prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who file a complaint of sexual harassment.
  • Beyond reporting the conduct directly to your employer, you have other options for reporting sexual harassment or assault you have faced in the workplace in Maryland: you may file a complaint with the Maryland Commission for Civil Rights or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). If your county has a human rights commission, you can also file a complaint at the local agency.
  • Choosing which route to pursue is a delicate strategic decision. We recommend consulting with an attorney to determine the best course of action for you.

I was sexually harassed or assaulted a long time ago. Do I still have a claim in Maryland?

  • You might.
  • Under Maryland law, you have two years to file a charge alleging harassment with the Maryland Commission for Civil Rights. For coverage under federal law, a charge must be filed within 300 days of the sexual harassment.  In general, you must file a charge with an agency before bringing your case to court.
  • But there are certain circumstances that can extend those deadlines. You also may have related claims under different laws.  It is safest to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to learn whether you still have live claims.

Where can I get more information about workplace sexual harassment in Maryland?

  • The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights website has more information about unlawful employment discrimination in Maryland.
  • Your county in Maryland may have its own anti-discrimination law in addition to the Maryland state law. In some instances, those local laws provide complainants with remedies that are greater than under the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act.  Montgomery County, for example, has a Commission on Human Rights that enforces the Montgomery County Human Rights Act, which has a higher damages cap than the Maryland law.  Likewise, Prince George’s County Office of Human Rights investigates employment discrimination in violation of its local anti-discrimination ordinance.

Virginia

How are Virginia sexual harassment protections different from federal protections?

  • Virginia law provides somewhat greater protection and remedies for sexual harassment or assault in the workplace than federal law. While federal law caps an employee’s recovery of compensatory and punitive damages at $300,000, Virginia law does not have a cap on the compensatory damages that workers can recover.

How can I report sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace in Virginia?

  • You have several avenues to report sexual harassment or sexual assault in Virginia
  • If you have suffered workplace sexual harassment or assault, you can report the misconduct to your employer. Virginia law and federal law prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who file a complaint of sexual harassment.
  • Beyond reporting the conduct directly to your employer, you have other options for reporting sexual harassment or assault you have faced in the workplace in Virginia: you may file a complaint with the Virginia Office of Civil Rights or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). You must file an administrative complaint before going to court.  If your county has a human rights commission, you can also file a complaint at the local agency.
  • Choosing which route to pursue is a delicate strategic decision. We recommend consulting with an attorney to determine the best course of action for you.

I was sexually harassed or assaulted a long time ago. Do I still have a claim in Virginia?

  • You might.
  • Under Virginia law, you have 180 days to file a charge with the Virginia Office of Civil Rights. For coverage under federal law, a charge must be filed within either 180 or 300 days of the sexual harassment.
  • But there are certain circumstances that can extend those deadlines. You also may have related claims under different laws.  It is safest to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to learn whether you still have live claims.

Where can I get more information about workplace sexual harassment in Virginia?

  • The Virginia Office of Civil Rights website has information about workplace discrimination.
  • Depending on the county where you live and work, you may have additional rights under local laws. Fairfax County, for example, also has a Human Rights Commission that investigates employment discrimination.  The Office of Civil Rights website links to various local agencies in the state of Virginia where you can find more information.

 

 

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