Earlier this week, D.C.’s Mayor signed two new measures amending the D.C. Human Rights Act (“DCHRA”) to prohibit (1) discrimination against employees of religiously-affiliated educational institutions on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) workplace bias related to reproductive health decisions.
The DCHRA includes an exemption—called the Armstrong Amendment—enacted in 1989 that permitted “any educational institution that is affiliated with a religious organization or closely associated with the tenets of a religious organization” to “deny, restrict, abridge or condition the use of any fund, service, facility or benefit; or the granting of any endorsement, approval, or recognition, to any person or persons that are organized for, or engaged in, promoting, encouraging, or condoning any homosexual act, lifestyle, orientation or belief.” The Armstrong Amendment was originally adopted to protect church-affiliated schools from recognizing school groups that contravened a church’s tenents or teachings. The Human Rights Amendment Act (B20-803) removes that exemption from the DCHRA.
The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (B20-790) amends the DCHRA to prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of an employee or a dependent’s reproductive health decisions based on an employer’s beliefs about such services. The Act defines reproductive health decisions to include the “decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service.” Proponents of the law state that it will prohibit employers from taking birth control coverage away from health insurance plans. Proponents have also stated that the law would prohibit firing employees who violate an employer’s views about having sex outside of marriage or using in vitro fertilization.
The Act must be submitted to Congress for a 30-day period of review before becoming law.