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Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct: District of Columbia

Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Authors: Stuart R. Buttrick, Susan W. Kline and Tareen Zafrullah, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


  • Employee handbooks can alter the employment-at-will presumption in the District of Columbia. See Employee Handbook Exception to Employment-At-Will Presumption.
  • Workplace rules cannot discriminate against employees based on protected classes. See Employer Discrimination Through Workplace Rules.
  • The District of Columbia has detailed rules regulating drugs, alcohol and smoking in the workplace. See Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking in the Workplace.
  • District of Columbia law prohibit anyone from intercepting written or oral communications unless the he or she is a party to the communication or a party to the communication has consented to the interception. See Wiretapping and Monitoring Communications.
  • Employers cannot have English-only rules. See English-Only Requirement.
  • Workplace rules or practices cannot allow for one class of employees to be referred to using an honorific title and another class be referred to by their first names. See Honorific Title Discrimination.
  • Workplace rules must permit employees the opportunity to breastfeed or express breast milk. See Breastfeeding.
  • Workplace rules regulating dress codes must be based upon a reasonable business purpose, and employers must make reasonable accommodations for hair or dress styles related to a protected status. If no reasonable business purpose exists, employers cannot prohibit an employee from wearing a hair or dress style symbolic of national origin, religion or race. See Dress and Appearance.
  • Workplace rules cannot limit access to most employment facilities based on a protected class. See Discrimination Relating to Employer Facilities.
  • The political activity of District public employees is protected to same extent political activity is protected under federal law. See Public Employee Political Activities.
  • Employers cannot apply workplace rules that differentiate between most students and other employees. See Student Pay Scales.