Jonathan C. Puth Testifies Before the D.C. Council on Budget Concerns

Washington, D.C. (April 14, 2016) – Today Jonathan C. Puth of Correia & Puth, PLLC testified on the Mayor’s FY 17 proposed budget and financial plan in front of the Council of the District of Columbia. Mr. Puth testified on behalf of the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association (MWELA) before the Committee on the Judiciary during the Budget Oversight Hearing. Mr. Puth is the Immediate Past President of MWELA, an association of over 350 attorneys dedicated to the representation of employees.

“The D.C. Council has consistently worked to ensure that the District of Columbia Human Rights Act remains one of the most robust and effective anti-discrimination statutes in the country. The D.C. Human Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination against a broad spectrum of employees and promises ‘to secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit. . . .'” D.C. Code § 2-1401.01. Mr. Puth further testified:

“Importantly, our Human Rights Act provides for an election of remedies by which a target of employment discrimination may bring claims in court, or may instead pursue their claims administratively before the Commission on Human Rights.  D.C. Code §§ 2-1403.16, 2-1403.10.  One amendment under consideration by this Committee may be asserted to severely limit remedies available to individuals who choose to assert claims of discrimination in the administrative forum.

MWELA opposes the amendment entitled “District of Columbia Government Award of Interest and Interest Rate Amendment Act of 2016” because, if implemented, it may remove an essential element of relief to proven targets of discrimination who brought their claims before the Commission on Human Rights rather than in court.

This language may erode the promise of the Human Rights Act to fully compensate proven targets of discrimination simply because the complainant has chosen to move forward in the administrative forum.  The language of the amendment is not confined to claims by District of Columbia government employees alone, but rather may affect all employees who bring discrimination claims before the Commission on Human Rights.  MWELA is unaware of any reasoned rationale for limiting relief because claims are adjudicated in an administrative forum rather than in court.  While we would equally oppose any measure that purports to limit interest for public sector employees alone, the Budget Support Act appears to be an inappropriate vehicle for a potentially much broader change in the law, which could affect a much larger class of private sector individuals whose awards will have no impact on the budget whatsoever.”

Read Mr. Puth’s full testimony here.