District of Columbia Employment Law Update – February 2017

District of Columbia

District Passes Universal Paid Leave Act

On December 20, 2016, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Universal Paid Sick Leave Act of 2016 (D.C. B21-0415). The bill guarantees certain periods of paid family and medical leave to private sector employees starting on July 1, 2020. Specifically, the bill will provide eight weeks of paid leave to new mothers and fathers, six weeks for employees caring for sick family members, and two weeks for personal sick leave. Payments will be funded by an additional 0.62 percent employer payroll tax that the city will collect from private-sector employees starting on July 1, 2019.

The bill became an act (without Mayor Muriel Bower’s signature) on February 17, 2017, but must undergo a 30-day congressional review period before becoming effective as law.

Read D.C. B21-0415

District Passes Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act

On December 20, 2016, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. B21-0244). The bill amends the D.C. Human Rights Act to prohibit employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations from discriminating against prospective and current employees based on that prospective or current employee’s credit information.

Specifically, the bill prohibits employers from directly or indirectly requiring, requesting, suggesting, or causing any employee to submit credit information, and from using, accepting, referring to, or inquiring into an employee’s credit information.

The D.C. Office of Human Rights is responsible for investigating violations of the law. Violations of the law are punishable as follows:

  • First violation: $1,000 fine.
  • Second violation: $2,500 fine.
  • Subsequent violations: $5,000 fine.

The bill became an act on February 15, 2017 upon signing by Mayor Muriel Bowser, but must undergo a 30-day congressional review period before becoming effective as law.

Read D.C. B21-0244

District Passes Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Fairness Amendment Act

On December 6, 2016, the District of Columbia City Council (Council) passed the Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Fairness Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. B21-0120).

The bill builds on and clarifies provisions of the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2014 and addresses on a permanent basis the issues covered in several emergency and temporary clarification acts passed by the Council.

Among other things, the bill:

  • Authorizes the Mayor to issue regulations implementing the Wage Payment Act.
  • Replaces minimum criminal penalties based on the amount of wages stolen with maximum penalties.
  • Allows employers to pay professional, administrative, and executive employees once per month and not record precise time worked for those employees.
  • Requires the Mayor to translate sample templates for employers to give employees into the languages covered by the Language Access Act.
  • Clarifies that the District Attorney General can enforce wage and leave laws.
  • Provides that only labor organization and employee associations, and not other groups, can sue on behalf of their members.
  • Clarifies that general contractors and clients of temporary staffing agencies may waive their right to indemnification by contract.

Clarifies recordkeeping requirements, including how long employers should keep records and what they should provide to employees on paystubs.

The bill became an act on February 17, 2017 upon signing by Mayor Muriel Bowser, but must undergo a 30-day congressional review period before becoming effective as law.

Read D.C. B21-0120