On January 12, 2024, the District of Columbia joined a growing list of jurisdictions with wage transparency laws after Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023 (the “Act”). The Act amends parts of the Wage Transparency Act of 2014, as well as introduces several new employee-friendly requirements that will go into effect on June 30, 2024, including an employer obligation to disclose pay ranges in job postings.
What Does the Act Require?
The Act introduces various new requirements for D.C. employers. First, advertised “job listings” and “position descriptions” must include the lowest and highest projected salary or wage rate based on the employer’s good-faith belief at the time of posting. “Job listings” and “position descriptions” are not defined; however, based on the language used, the requirement is likely to also apply for internal position postings, including promotion and transfer opportunities.
Additionally, before a first interview for employment, applicants must be advised what healthcare benefits will be offered with the position. Employers do not need to disclose a full schedule of healthcare benefits. Rather, per the D.C. Council, employers can satisfy their obligation by disclosing the “existence of healthcare benefits.”
The Act also prohibits employers from discriminating based on an applicant’s wage history. Employers cannot ask an applicant to disclose wage history, require that an applicant’s wage history satisfy some criteria or seek an applicant’s wage history from a former employer. Further, employers cannot retaliate against employees who discuss “compensation,” which the Act defines as “all forms of monetary and nonmonetary benefits an employer provides or promises to provide an employee in exchange for the employee’s services to the employer.” This will amend existing D.C. law which only prohibits retaliation for discussing “wages.” D.C. employers must post a notice in the workplace notifying employees of their rights under the Act.
Noncompliance with the Act’s requirements is punishable by civil fines of $1,000 for a first violation, $5,000 for a second violation and $20,000 for each subsequent violation. Employees and applicants do not have a private cause of action against an employer for noncompliance; only the D.C. Attorney General may enforce the Act.
Who is Subject to The Act?
The Act applies to any business that employs one or more employee in the District, so even an employer with a single remote employee in the District will be subject to its requirements. The only exceptions are for the District and Federal governments.
Next Steps for Employers?
D.C. employers should begin planning for compliance now, including by compiling and reviewing all relevant pay data and their company’s pay policies. Employers should also plan to train employees involved in interviewing and recruiting to avoid asking about an applicant’s wage history. Wage transparency laws have already been adopted by California, New York, Illinois, Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington State, and similar laws likely will proliferate to other jurisdictions. Employers can mitigate the risks created by new wage transparency laws by proactively identifying pay equity issues and other potential areas of concern within their workforces. Squire Patton Boggs will continue to monitor developments related to the Act and its impact on D.C. employers.