Q. What is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?
A. The District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), DC Official Code §§ 2-531 - 539, is a law that grants individuals the right to request access to public records that are not protected from disclosure by the exemptions listed in D.C. Official Code § 2-534. FOIA requires DCHR to make a reasonable effort to locate already existing records in its possession. FOIA does not require DCHR to conduct research, analyze data, answer questions, or otherwise create new records in order to respond to a request.
Q. What records are protected from disclosure under FOIA?
A. The FOIA statute provides that certain categories of records may be withheld from disclosure. Included among these are records subject to recognized legal privileges such as the attorney-client and work-product privileges, records required to be withheld by other federal or District laws, records that reflect the internal deliberative processes of the government, and records that, if disclosed, would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. For a complete list of the exemptions please see D.C. Code § 2-534.
Q. Who can file a FOIA request?
A. Any person can file a FOIA request.
Q. Is there a statute of limitations to request records under FOIA?
A. No. Any individual can request records dating as far back as they wish. However, DCHR’s document retention policy may affect the availability of older records.
Q. How do I file a FOIA request?
A. If you wish to file a FOIA request, you can submit a request online via the DC government Public FOIA Portal at https://foia-dc.gov/. FOIA requests submitted online will be easier to track and process. You can also submit a FOIA request by mail, or email using the contact information listed below.
Andrew Addison, Esq.
DC Department of Human Resources
Office of the General Counsel
1015 Half Street, SE, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20003
For additional information please contact DCHR’s FOIA Officer via email at [email protected] or by phone at 202.727.1742.
In order to better assist you in finding the records you need, please describe the records you are seeking as clearly and precisely as possible. In your description, please specify, as much as possible, relevant names, dates, places, events, subjects, and other pertinent details that will help DCHR identify the records. The more specific you are about the records you are seeking, the more likely DCHR will be able to locate those records. If your request is vague or too broad, we may ask you to be more specific, and this may delay the processing of your request and/or result in fees associated with your request.
Q. How long does DCHR have to respond to a FOIA request?
A. DCHR will respond to requests within 15 business days after receiving a request. In certain circumstances, DCHR may request an extension of up to 10 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) as outlined in D.C. Official Code § 2-532(d).
Q. Is a requestor required to pay a fee for any FOIA records received?
A. There is no fee to submit a FOIA request. However, a requester may be charged fees for searching, reviewing, redacting and reproducing records as outlined in D.C. Code § 2-532(b) and in Title 1, Section 408 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR). A requester may have to pay search and/or review fees even if the search does not locate any responsive records or if records are located but are withheld as exempt. See 1 DCMR § 408.
A requester may request a fee waiver or a reduction in fees. In order to request the waiver or reduction in fees, the request must include a statement describing how the requested records will be used to benefit the general public. DCHR may grant the request if it determines that a waiver or fee reduction is in the public interest, pursuant to D.C. Code § 2-532(b).
Paid Family Leave
Q. What is the Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program?
A. The PFL program provides eligible District government employees up to eight workweeks of paid family leave within a twelve-month period for the birth or qualifying placement of a child with an employee or to care for a family member of the employee with a serious health condition.
Q. Are all employees eligible to participate in the PFL program?
A. No. If an employee is under a temporary appointment (fewer than 90 days) or works an intermittent schedule, the employee is ineligible for PFL.
Q. Can an employee be denied PFL?
A. Yes. An employee can be denied PFL if:
- They are ineligible for PFL;
- They fail to establish a qualifying event for PFL;
- They fail to provide the necessary supporting documentation; or
- They were already approved for PFL within the past 12 months.
Q. If an employee received PFL in one year, how long must the employee wait to request PFL for another qualifying event?
A. If the employee was previously approved for PFL, they must wait at least 12 months following the last payment received for PFL before they are eligible for PFL for another qualifying event.
Q. How can an employee apply for the PFL Program?
A. The employee should first contact their agency Family and Medical Leve Coordinator to obtain the appropriate form. District government employees may then apply for PFL by:
- Completing a Family and Medical Leave Application Form (FML-01);
- Obtaining any documents required to establish benefit eligibility; and
- Submitting the application and supporting documents to their agency Family and Medical Leave Act Coordinator.
Q. What type of supporting documentation should an employee provide to establish eligibility for PFL?
Q. If an eligible employee experiences more than one qualifying event in a 12-month period, will the employee be allowed to use PFL for the second event within that same 12-month period?
A. No. An employee may only receive PFL for one qualifying event in a 12-month period.
Q. If an eligible employee qualifies for Paid Family Leave, DC Family Medical Leave (DCFMLA) or Federal Family Medical Leave (FMLA), can the leave be used concurrently?
A. Yes. If an employee qualifies for PFL, DCFMLA, and Federal FMLA, the leave would run concurrently.
Q. Do the provisions on PFL apply to eligible employees in independent agencies?
A. Yes. PFL applies to all District government agencies.
Q. How can an employee obtain additional information about the PFL Program?
A. An employee should initially contact their designated agency Family Medical Leave Coordinator for information on the PFL Program.
DC Family and Medical Leave and Federal Family and Medical Leave
Q. What is the DC Family Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA)?
A. The DCFMLA is a law that provides eligible employees up to 16 workweeks of unpaid medical leave and 16 workweeks of unpaid family leave for qualifying events over a 24-month period. The DCFMLA also provides certain benefit and job protections to employees who take family or medical leave. For leave which qualifies under both DCFMLA and federal FMLA, the leave shall count against an employee’s entitlement for both laws and shall be counted or applied concurrently under both laws. (See Title 4 of the DCMR, Section 1620.2 of Chapter 16).
Q. What are the qualifying events under the DCFMLA?
A. Under the DCFMLA, qualifying events are:
- The live birth of a child of the employee;
- The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, or other permanent assumption and discharge of parental responsibilities for a child; or
- The care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- An employee who becomes unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position because of a serious health condition
Q. What is the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (federal FMLA)?
A. The federal FMLA is a law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 workweeks of family leave and 12 workweeks of medical leave over a 12-month period. The total allotment of leave allowed under FMLA for either family leave and/or medical leave in a 12 -month period is 12 total workweeks. Any qualifying leave under DCFMLA shall count against the federal leave entitlement.