Important Development in Case of Worker Fired After Giving Birth

Kashawna Holmes learned that she had lost her job just days after giving birth to her son in 2014. She had been working for the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) coordinating a senior companion care program, a job she loved. Her termination followed months of harassment related to her high-risk pregnancy and marital status.

Ms. Holmes filed suit against UDC in December 2015. She is represented by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, First Shift Justice Project, and Andrews Kurth. UDC moved to dismiss the complaint, largely relying on the argument that because Ms. Holmes’ position was a term-limited appointment she had no right to reinstatement under the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA).

Kashawna Holmes

Last month, the trial court denied UDC’s motion to dismiss. Washington Lawyers’ Committee staff attorney Christine Dinan explains why the court’s opinion is an important step forward in the case—

Q: First, can you explain the nature of Ms. Holmes’s position?

CD: Ms. Holmes worked for UDC in a grant-funded position that was renewable each year, assuming there was funding for the position.

Q: Why does that matter?

CD: After they fired her, UDC said that Ms. Holmes had no right to return to her job, or an equivalent one, under DC’s family and medical leave law because of its term-limited nature. They said she couldn’t even bring a DCFMLA claim because of the type of job she had.

Q: What did the court say?

CD: The court roundly rejected this argument. One reason that’s a big deal is because DC employs a substantial number of people in jobs that are structured this way. Now the city is on notice that it can’t simply argue that workers like Ms. Holmes have no protection under the DCFMLA.

Q: Why else is this opinion important?

CD: Like many employers often do in employment discrimination cases, UDC made lots of arguments that disregarded clear case law. The court examined each of these arguments and made clear that they were not legally supportable, which was validating for Ms. Holmes. It’s also a useful opinion for employment lawyers, as there are few DC opinions that clarify the pleading requirements under DC’s family medical leave, human rights, and pregnancy discrimination laws.

Q: What’s next for Ms. Holmes?

CD: Now, we are moving forward with the case—UDC will have to defend its actions in court.

For more information about WLC’s employment discrimination matters, or if you’ve been discriminated against at work, contact Samantha Weaver at or 202-319-1000.

Ways to Give

The Washington Lawyers' Committee relies on the generosity of area law firms, individuals and foundations for critical operating support. The Committee welcomes contributions of Annual Gifts, Matching Gifts, Memorial and Tribute Gifts, Planned Gifts, Gifts of Attorney's Fees, and Gifts of Unclaimed Settlement Funds (link to these sections). See more information below on these ways to give to the Washington Lawyers' Committee.

The Committee is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, ID # 52-1784938, and all contributions are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by law. You may contribute online using our secure contributions page, or by mail to:

Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
11 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC, 20036

Annual Gifts

Annual gifts provide current support for Washington Lawyers' Committee projects. The Committee accepts annual gifts of cash, checks, securities, mutual fund shares, other property, and matching gifts. Gifts of other property may include closely held stock, real estate, life insurance or tangible personal property, such as art or rare books. If you prefer, systematic payments on a monthly or quarterly basis may allow you to spread your annual gift payments conveniently throughout the year.

You may make annual gifts by credit card online using our secure contributions page, or by mailing a check to the Washington Lawyers' Committee. To make other types of annual gifts, please contact the Committee's Development Office by e-mail or call 202-319-1000.

Matching Gifts

The Washington Lawyers' Committee benefits from many matching gift programs. Check with your personnel or community relations department whether your company or firm will match your gift. If your gift qualifies, please inform us by e-mail or call 202-319-1000, so we know to expect a matching gift from your organization to the Committee.

Memorial and Tribute Gifts

The Committee accepts gifts in honor or memory of family, friends and colleagues. When you make a tax-deductible memorial or tribute gift, the Committee sends a note to the family of the person being honored or memorialized. If you are interested in making Memorial or Tribute Gifts, Please contact us by e-mail or call 202-319-1000 for more information.

Memorial gifts may also be made to the Committee through the John Burke Memorial Fund, named for the late Committee counsel and trustee John L. Burke, Jr. Proceeds from the Fund support the cause of pro bono service and the Committee's annual breakfast meeting, renamed the John Burke Pro Bono Breakfast. You may give online by credit card using our secure contributions page, or by mailing a check to the Washington Lawyers' Committee, c/o the John Burke Memorial Fund.

Planned Gifts

Planned gifts may be made through bequests, life income plans (pooled income funds, annuities, and trusts), lead trusts, real estate, tangible personal property, closely held stock, life insurance, and remainder interest in a home. Each charitable tax deduction offers various benefits. The Committee's Development Office will be happy to assist you in exploring the various planned gift options and benefits. Please contact us by e-mail or call 202-319-1000 for more information.

Gifts of Fees

The Committee encourages firms with which it has worked to contribute attorney's fees received on Committee cases to support the Committee's ongoing civil rights work. For more information, contact the Committee's Executive Director Rod Boggs, at (202) 319-1000, x103, or by e-mail.

Gifts of Unclaimed Settlement Funds

The Committee gratefully accepts gifts of unclaimed, undistributed, excess or residual settlement funds. In the case of many class-action settlements, a provision may be included in settlement documents authorizing the disposition of undistributed funds to the Committee. The Committee has accepted such gifts in the past, and is willing to do so in future. If you are interested in designating the Committee as a recipient of such funds, please contact Executive Director Rod Boggs, at (202) 319-1000, x103, or by e-mail.

Request Legal Assistance

[ Español ]

For all civil rights or discrimination concerns, please complete the following questionnaire. When completed, click on the Submit button. 

Or, you may download a pdf of this form, fill it out (please type or print legibly) and mail, email or fax it to the Committee.

Questionnaire Initial

[ English ] [ Español ]

Pour toute autre question concernant les droits civiques ou des cas de discrimination, veuillez remplir le questionnaire ci-dessous. Une fois rempli, cliquez sur Submit.

Vous pouvez aussi décharger un formulaire pdf et le remplir (tapez vos réponses ou utilisez des caractères d'imprimerie) puis envoyez- le par courrier, email ou fax au Committee.

Tous les questionnaires seront traités dans la plus stricte confidentialité; ils ne seront ni partagés avec qui que ce soit, ni vendus. Nous utiliserons seulement votre adresse email afin de vous répondre directement. Ce formulaire sert au Washington Lawyers' Committee à examiner votre demande d'assistance mais le fait de l'avoir rempli ne signifie pas que nous ayons accepté de vous représenter. C'est à vous qu'il revient de faire les démarchesnécessaires et de respecter les dates limites.

Sachez que le Washington Lawyers' Committee reçoit de nombreuses demandes d' assistance chaque jour et, par conséquent, notre réponse ne vous parviendra que dans une ou deux semaines. Nous vous remercions d'être patient.

Renseignements Personnels (*indique une case à remplir obligatoirement)
Nom de famille*
Adresse (suite)
Code postal*
Numéros de téléphone
Dans la journée
Dans la soirée
Discrimination/ Violation des Droits Civiques
Croyez-vous avoir été victime de l’un des actes répréhensibles suivants (en mentionner un):
Discrimination à l’emploi
Salaires impayés/ Heures supplémentaires
Discrimination au logement
Discrimination de la part de l’Administration
Discrimination en tant que consommateur d’une entreprise
(public accommodations)
Mauvais traitements par la police
Crimes racistes
Discrimination de la part d’agences de prêt ou de companies d’assurances
Autre (préciser)
Type de Discrimination (cochez toutes les cases applicables)
Race Harcèlement sexuel
Religion Immigration (statut)
Sexe Pays d’origine
Orientation sexuelle Age
Identité (mas., fém) Femme enceinte
Handicap (préciser)
Autre (préciser)
Organisme à l’origine de la discrimination (compagnie, agence, organization, individu)
Adresse (si elle est connue)
Code Post.
Donnez une brève description des événements que vous croyez être discriminatoires

Request Legal Assistance (Español)

[ English ]

Contact Us

Fraud Alerts 3Thank you for your interest in the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. The Committee invites the support of the DC metropolitan legal community and of all individuals who share its commitment to justice and equality of opportunity. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how you might assist the work of the Committee, please contact us. Materials are available in alternative formats for people with disabilities, and auxiliary aids, including sign language interpreters, are available on request. Please note that the Committee has a bilingual hotline for Spanish speakers who believe they have suffered discrimination.

For all civil rights or discrimination concerns, click here.


Le agradecemos su interés en el Comité de Abogados de Washington. El Comité invita el apoyo de la comunidad legal en la área metropolitana de Washington y de todo individuo que comparta su compromiso con la justicia y con la igualdad de oportunidades. Si tiene cualquier pregunta, o si desea conversar sobre la manera en que usted puede ayudar en el trabajo del Comité, favor de comunicarse con nosotros. Nuestros materiales están disponibles en diferentes formatos para las personas con discapacidades.  Tenemos a disponibilidad ayudas auxiliares, incluso intérpretes en lenguaje por señas. El Comité tiene una línea de teléfono bilingüe para los hispanohablantes quienes creen haber sufrido discriminación: 202-319-1000, anexo 8001.

Para toda preoccupation sobre derechos civiles o discriminación, haga clic aquí.

Copyright © 2008-2018 Washington Lawyers' Committee