Following a number of other states, the District of Columbia Council passed The Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023 (the 2023 Act), which was approved by Mayor Muriel Bowser on January 12, 2024, and is pending Congressional review. The 2023 Act amends the D.C. Wage and Transparency Act of 2014 (the 2014 Act) to compel openness in compensation by requiring employers to publish wage bands for advertised positions, prohibiting wage screening of applicants, and requiring disclosure of the existence of healthcare benefits prior to interviews.
The 2014 Act made it unlawful for employers to prevent employees from and/or discipline employees for inquiring about, disclosing, comparing, or otherwise discussing each other’s wages. The 2023 Act enhances protections for current employees and expands coverage to prospective employees by requiring employers to:
- Include minimum and maximum salary or hourly pay information for all job advertisements and postings, including promotions and transfer opportunities;
- Disclose healthcare benefits before a candidate’s first interview;
- Refrain from seeking—whether from a candidate or the candidate’s previous employers—a prospective employee’s compensation history; and
- Provide employees with notice of their rights under the new legislation “in a conspicuous place in at least one location where employees congregate.”
The 2023 Act also broadens employee protections in that it reaches beyond wages and encompasses “compensation,” defined as all monetary and non-monetary benefits an employer provides or promises to provide in exchange for an employee’s services.
Employers and “any other person” who violate the Act may be subject to investigation and/or civil action by the D.C. Attorney General. The Attorney General may bring an action against violators for restitutive, injunctive, or compensatory relief, in addition to reasonable attorneys’ fees or other penalties.
Unless overridden by Congress in the 30-day review period following Mayor Bowser’s approval, the 2023 Act will be effective as of June 30, 2024. Hence, employers with at least one D.C. employee have just shy of five months to examine job advertisements and postings and ensure that all such postings include the relevant salary ranges and the existence of healthcare coverage and other non-monetary benefits. Employers should also review their applications and accompanying forms to eliminate all inquiries into past compensation.
Employers should also ensure that their reference-check processes do not include asking former employers about a candidate’s past compensation, and they should immediately stop sharing compensation information for former employees with other employers seeking this information.
Employers must conspicuously post notice of the 2023 Act in at least one place where employees gather.
If you have questions about this update, need assistance with complying, or have other employment law inquiries, please contact Betty S. W. Graumlich (firstname.lastname@example.org), Tyree Jones (email@example.com), or the Reed Smith lawyer with whom you normally work.