District of Columbia Courts Announce New Employment Dispute Resolution Plan

DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and DC Superior Court Chief Judge Anita Josey-Herring today announced the adoption of a new Employee Dispute Resolution (“EDR”) Plan for the DC Courts. The DC Courts EDR Plan closely follows the US Courts' Model EDR Plan, adopted by the Judicial Conference, for reporting and resolving allegations of wrongful conduct in the workplace. 

"The Courts have a special role in our community to be arbiters of fairness and good conduct. The DC Courts specifically have pledged to embody the values of excellence, accountability, respect, and transparency.  That fundamental role and our values make it essential that the DC Courts have a fully inclusive workplace.  The  DC Courts' new EDR Plan, both through its standards of conduct and through the training and outreach we will do as part of it, is another way that we commit ourselves to living our values," said Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby. 

The DC Courts' EDR Plan includes definitions and examples of wrongful conduct, three flexible options for resolving conduct issues and clarification regarding confidentiality. On April 13, 2020, DC's Joint Committee on Judicial Administration appointed an Advisory Committee on Workplace Conduct, chaired by Judge Josey-Herring, to lead this effort. The Advisory Committee worked for over a year on this project and then reported to the Standing Committee on Fairness and Access. The Standing Committee has a long track record of making court administration reforms and strives to enhance equal justice under the law. Through a values-centered approach, the two committees, fully complemented with diverse and experienced judges, court administrators, judicial staff, former law clerk feedback, an education specialist and executive leadership, worked together to develop this EDR Plan, demonstrating again the DC Courts' commitment to being a ‘Great Place to Work’. Chief Judge Josey-Herring emphasized that “at the forefront of our workforce’s dedication to judicial public service must be an awareness of our own power subtleties that can foster or inhibit a physically and psychologically safe workplace.  It is incumbent on all of us to examine those challenges and address what we find. This plan is key to the DC Courts' commitment to be fair, impartial and respectful."

The EDR initiative is part of a broader equal justice initiative by the Courts and builds on the DC Courts’ work for over a decade on living the values of accountability, excellence, fairness, integrity, respect and transparency in every facet of their work. The DC Courts’ EDR Plan is an essential part of the DC court system’s foundation for a respectful workplace that includes the DC Code of Judicial Conduct and the DC Courts' extensive personnel policies. The addition of the new EDR Plan ensures that concerns about fair employment practices can not only be raised but be openly and safely discussed.  The EDR Plan specifies prohibited conduct, but also envisions proactive programming that will stem from the Plan.  In the words of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., through EDR implementation, the judiciary demonstrates its commitment to an “exemplary workplace for every...judicial employee and judge."  The DC Courts intend to ensure that exemplary workplace for all their employees, through this new EDR plan, as well as other equal justice initiatives.   

Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby and Chief Judge Josey-Herring were in agreement that the DC Courts are fortunate to have such a strong and committed team working on equal justice initiatives; a team that does not just study issues and concerns but develops practical solutions the Courts can implement.