D.C. Parental Leave Act of 1994

The “Parental Leave Act of 1994,” D.C. Code §§ 32-1201 – 1206, provides employees who are parents or otherwise responsible for a child with a total of 24 hours of leave during any 12-month period to attend or participate in school-related events for the child. The Act also provides for a day of leave to all employees – parent or not – on D.C. Emancipation Day (April 16).

  • 32-1201. Definitions

For purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Employer” means any individual, firm, association, corporation, the District of Columbia government, any receiver or trustee of any individual firm, association, or corporation, or the legal representative of a deceased employer, who uses the services of an individual (“employee”) for pay in the District.

(1A) “Employee” means any individual whose services are used for pay in the District by any of the entities provided for in paragraph (1) of this section.

(2) “Parent” means:

(A) The natural mother or father of a child;

(B) A person who has legal custody of a child;

(C) A person who acts as a guardian of a child regardless of whether he or she has been appointed legally as such;

(D) An aunt, uncle, or grandparent of a child; or

(E) A person who is married to, or in a domestic partnership with a person listed in subparagraphs (A) through (D) of this paragraph.

(3) “School-related event” means an activity sponsored by either a school or an associated organization such as a parent-teacher association. A school-related event includes: a student performance such as a concert, play, or rehearsal; the sporting game of a school team or practice; a meeting with a teacher or counselor; or any similar type of activity. A school-related event shall involve the parent’s child directly either as participant or subject but not as a spectator.

(4) “District of Columbia Emancipation Day” means April 16th of each year.

(5) “Domestic partnership” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(4).

  • 32-1202. Amount of leave; denial; form; notice

(a) Except as provided in this section, an employee who is a parent shall be entitled to a total of 24 hours leave during any 12 month period to attend or participate in a school-related event for his or her child.

(b) Except as provided in this section, an employee shall be entitled to a day of leave each year on April 16th, the District of Columbia Emancipation Day.

(c) An employer may deny the use of leave provided by subsections (a) and (b) of this section only if the granting of leave would disrupt the employer’s business and make the achievement of production or service delivery unusually difficult.

(d) The leave provided by this section may consist of unpaid leave unless the parent or employee elects to use any paid family, vacation, personal, compensatory, or leave bank leave that has been provided by the employer.

(e) An employee shall notify the employer of the desire for leave to attend a school-related event or to celebrate the District of Columbia Emancipation Day at least 10 calendar days in advance, unless, in the case of a school event, the need to attend the school-related event cannot be reasonably foreseen.

  • 32-1203. Effect of leave on employment benefits or seniority

An employee who takes leave pursuant to § 32-1202 shall not lose any employment benefit or seniority accrued before or during the date of such leave.

  • 32-1204. Administrative enforcement procedure; relief

(a) The Mayor shall provide an administrative procedure pursuant to which a person claimed to be aggrieved under this chapter may file a complaint against an employer alleged to have violated this chapter. A complaint shall be filed within 1 year of the occurrence or discovery of the alleged violation of this chapter.

(b) The administrative procedure shall include, but not be limited to:

(1) An investigation of the complaint and an attempt to resolve the complaint by conference, conciliation, or persuasion;

(2) If the complaint is not resolved, a determination on the existence of probable cause to believe a violation of this chapter has occurred;

(3) If there is a determination that probable cause exists, the issuance and service of a written notice and a copy of the complaint to the employer alleged to have committed the violation that requires the employer to answer the charges of the complaint at a formal hearing;

(4) A hearing conducted in accordance with procedures that the Mayor shall promulgate pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2;

(5) A decision and order accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions of law;

(6) If there is a determination that an employer committed a violation of this chapter, the issuance of an order that requires the employer to pay the employee damages in an amount equal to:

(A) Any wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation denied or lost to the employee due to the violation plus interest on the amount calculated at the rate prescribed in § 28-3302(b) or (c);

(B) An amount equal to the greater of:

(i) The amount determined under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph; or

(ii) Consequential damages not to exceed an amount equal to 3 times the amount determined under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph plus any medical expenses not covered by the health insurance of the employee; and

(C) A reduction in damages, within the discretion of the trier of fact, for an employer who violates this chapter and proves that the violation occurred in good faith and that the employer had reasonable grounds to believe that the employer’s action or omission was not in violation of this chapter; and

(7) A provision that authorizes the award of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in addition to other relief awarded under this chapter.

(c) Any person who is adversely affected or aggrieved by an order or decision issued pursuant to subsection (b) of this section is entitled to judicial review of the order or decision in accordance with § 2-510, upon filing a written petition for review in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.


(1) If the Mayor determines that the employer has not complied with an order after 20 days following service of the order, the Mayor shall certify the matter to the Corporation Counsel and to any other agency as may be appropriate for enforcement.

(2) The Corporation Counsel shall institute, in the name of the District, a civil proceeding that may include seeking injunctive relief, as is necessary to obtain complete compliance with the order.

(3) An enforcement action shall not be instituted pending judicial review as provided in subsection (c) of this section.

(e) The entire administrative enforcement procedure outlined in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, including the formal hearing, shall take no longer than 150 days to complete from the date the complaint is filed. If the Mayor fails to make a reasonable effort to comply with the deadline requirements of the administrative enforcement provisions prescribed by this subsection and the rules promulgated by the Mayor, the person who initiated the administrative enforcement procedure against the employer may file a civil action against the employer pursuant to § 32-1205.

  • 32-1205. Enforcement by civil action

(a) Subject to the provisions in subsection (b) of this section, an employee or the Mayor may bring a civil action against any employer to enforce the provisions of this chapter in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(b) No civil action may be commenced more than 1 year after the occurrence or discovery of the alleged violation of this chapter.

(c) If a court determines that an employer violated any provision of this chapter, the damages provision prescribed in § 32-1204(b)(6) and (c) shall apply.

  • 32-1206. Notice

(a) The Mayor shall devise and an employer shall post and maintain in a conspicuous place, a notice that sets forth excerpts from or summaries of the pertinent provisions of this chapter and information that pertains to the filing of a complaint under this chapter.

(b) Any employer who willfully violates this section shall be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $ 100 for each day that employer fails to post the notice.

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