The field of employment regulations is in full bloom in Washington D.C. These regulations are different from what’s required “across the border”, in Maryland and Virginia. If you have employees based in the District, you want to pay attention!
Even if you do not have employees in the District, keep an eye on what’s happening. New regulations introduced by DC City Council are harbinger of federal regulations. Case in point, DC introduced a Wage Transparency Act in March 2015. A similar requirement was introduced by the OFCCP earlier this year. For more on this, read my article published earlier this year.
Ban-the-Box – Many localities across the nation have adopted a version of “Ban-the-Box.” D.C. is one of them. Employers are prohibited from requesting information regarding arrest records at the application stage of the recruitment process. Inquiring about criminal convictions is acceptable, but only after a conditional job offer has been made.
However, if criminal history is a requirement for the position (let’s say because the position requires a security clearance), employers can ask about criminal convictions at the application stage.
Can employers ban Marijuana? The short answer is “Yes”. Although limited use and cultivation of marijuana became legal in 2015, smoking pot is banned in all public places. In the workplace, employers with a zero tolerance for drugs, including marijuana, are still within their right to enforce their policy. For example, employers can withdraw a conditional offer if an applicant tests positive for marijuana use.
Handguns in the Workplace – In Washington DC, commercial property are considered to allow firearms on their premises unless it is specifically prohibited and communicated. If your workplace prohibits employees from bringing firearms, include this prohibition in the employee handbook and post signage at the reception area banning firearms on-site.
Pregnant Workers – Taking the federal protection further and in line with last year’s Supreme Court decision, Washington D.C. requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees along the lines of those required by the ADA to disabled employees. While pregnancy is not considered a disability under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), pregnancy is treated like one in DC and employers have to provide reasonable accommodation.
Engage in the interactive process with pregnant employees who request an accommodation as you would with disabled employees. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. Most employees have an idea of what would help them perform their job. Accommodations are not necessarily burdensome or expensive. An remember, pregnancy is a temporary condition lasting 9 months or less!
For more on what federal contractors with employees in the District, read this article.