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On January 12, 2024, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, signed Act 25-367, otherwise known as the “Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023”1, which amends the Wage Transparency Act of 2014 (hereinafter the “Act”). D.C. Official Code § 32-1451 et seq.

The Amendment aligns D.C.’s existing Act with the substance of various pay transparency laws throughout the United States by requiring covered employers to take the following affirmative steps towards pay transparency:

  1. Disclosing in good faith the salary or hourly rate for the job listings and job descriptions advertised, and
  2. Before the first interview occurs, notifying candidates of the existence of healthcare benefits.

As discussed below, the Amendment provides clarification of the Act’s language while simultaneously broadening the scope of the Act. Further, the Amendment adds responsibilities and additional restrictions onto covered employers and empowers the Attorney General with investigatory and enforcement powers. Pending a 30-day congressional review period, the Amendment is slated to become effective as of June 30, 2024.

Updated Definitions

Under the Amendment, the definition of “employer” is changed to “an individual, firm, association, or corporation that employs at least one employee in the District, except that the term “employer” does not include the: (A) District government; or (B) Federal government.”2 Councilmember Anita Bonds explained in the December 18, 2023 amendment rationale that it was the intent for the Act and Amendment to apply to the traditional employer and employee relationship and not to independent contractors.

The Amendment repeals the existing definition of “wages”3 and adds a definition of “wage history,” which it defines as “information related to compensation an employee has received from other or previous employment.” Throughout the Amendment, the reference to “wages” is replaced with “compensation.” Compensation is broadly defined 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.”

Employer Obligations – Pay Disclosure and Healthcare Benefit Disclosure

Under the Amendment, employers are required to “provide the minimum and maximum projected salary or hourly pay in all job listings and position descriptions advertised.” The Amendment instructs the employer to state the minimum and maximum that the employer in good faith believes at the time of the posting that it would pay for the position. The posting requirements apply to new or open positions, promotions and transfers.

Before the first interview, the employer is required to disclose the existence of the healthcare benefits the employee may receive. Early drafts of the Amendment would have required employers to provide a specific schedule of benefits, as follows: “the schedule of benefits, including bonuses, healthcare and other wellness benefits, stocks, bonds, options, equity, and nonmonetary remuneration.” Angela Franco, President & CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce, provided the Council with written testimony. Ms. Franco pointed out that benefit information may be considered proprietary information and requiring employers to publish said benefits could put them at a competitive disadvantage in the labor marketplace. To make it easier on employers, the language was amended to only require notice of the existence of healthcare benefits.

Employers are also required to post a notice of rights under this Act and its Amendment in a conspicuous place in at least one location where employees congregate. At the time of publication, the Council has yet to provide a poster to satisfy this requirement. Therefore, employers will be required to draft a notice in compliance with this Act and Amendment.

Employer Restrictions

The existing Act prohibits employers from: 1) requiring as a condition of employment that employees will refrain from disclosing, comparing or discussing wages; 2) retaliating against employees discussing wages; or 3) prohibiting employees from filing a complaint or participating in an investigation regarding a violation of the Act.

The Amendment adds two more restrictions. The Amendment prohibits employers from screening prospective candidates based on their wage history. Employers may not request or require a candidate provide their wage history as a condition of obtaining an interview or condition of continued candidacy. Additionally, employers are prohibited from seeking the wage history information of a prospective employee.

Attorney General

The existing Act grants the Mayor for the District of Columbia with the authority to issue fines for penalties following the adjudication by an administrative law judge. The Amendment grants the Attorney General investigatory and enforcement authority.

Key Takeaways

Pending the 30-day congressional review, the Amendment will become effective June 30, 2024. In anticipation of the effective date, employers should prepare by identifying the salary and hourly rate ranges and incorporate those ranges into the job postings. Employers should also train human resources professionals to speak on this topic and ensure that they discuss healthcare benefits with candidates prior to the candidate’s first interview. Finally, employers should prepare to post a notice outlining the rights under this Act and Amendment.4

Please reach out to a member of Buchanan’s Labor Employment Benefits and Immigration Section to address these issues or any other questions you have concerning the Act or the Amendment.

  1. The “Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023” was B25-0194, which combined three bills into one (B25-0194 – Pay Scale and Benefits Disclosure Amendment Act of 2023; B25-0140 – Fair Wage Amendment Act of 2023; and B25-0026 – Pay Range Act of 2023).
  2. Since 2015, the Act applied to “employers,” defined as “an individual, firm, association, or corporation who uses the services of another individual for pay in the District; provided, that the term employer does not include the District or the federal government.” Drafts of the Amendment proposed that “employer” be defined as those entities having at least 25 employees in Washington D.C.; however, that language was removed and replaced with the requirement that at least one employee works in Washington D.C.
  3. The Act relied upon the definition of “wages” used in D.C.’s code on payment and collection of wages. D.C. § 32-1301(3). 
  4. At the time of publication, a formal template outlining employee rights under the Act and Amendment has not been prepared by the D.C. Council.