This case presents an important question of public policy: Shall the important goals of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977, D.C. Code §§ 2-1401.01 et seq. (“DCHRA”), be jeopardized by allowing employers to retaliate against potential witnesses in proceedings under the DCHRA, except in the rare instances where the witnesses are able to present direct evidence that the formal decision maker had personal knowledge that the witness was planning to testify truthfully that there was a violation?
In this case the Superior Court improperly disregarded several evidentiary sources from which a reasonable jury could have legitimately inferred that Mr. Bryant’s concededly protected activity of planning to give truthful supporting testimony on behalf of a co-worker who had sexual harassment claims was the cause of his termination without explanation after eighteen years of discipline-free, exemplary, and frequentlycommended performance, and held that none of this mattered unless Mr. Bryant could show such personal knowledge.
If this decision is affirmed, employers will be immune from claims of violations of the DCHRA whenever they are large enough to arrange for a formal decisionmaker who is far enough removed from witnesses that they can retaliate freely, chilling adverse testimony without accountability because the witnesses will be unable to prove their direct personal knowledge of the protected activity. The large and important goals of the DCHRA are threatened at their core by the decision below.