New District of Columbia Law Greatly Expands Remedies for Wage Law Violations and Places New Notice Requirements on Employers

Employee Benefit Plan Review January 2015

Brian W. Steinbach, Senior Attorney in the Labor and Employment practice, in the firm's Washington, DC, office, authored an article in Employee Benefit Plan Review, titled “New District of Columbia Law Greatly Expands Remedies for Wage Law Violations and Places New Notice Requirements on Employers.”

Following is an excerpt:

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray recently signed the “Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act of 2014” (“Act”). The Act generally broadens the coverage of, and expands the notice requirements, means of enforcement, retaliation protections, and available remedies under, several District of Columbia wage laws. In particular, the laws affected by the Act are the Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL), the Living Wage Act (LWA), the Minimum Wage Revision Act (MWRA), and the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act (ASSLA).

Notably, for the first time, business licenses and permits can be denied or suspended for the failure to comply with these laws, and liens can be placed on both real and personal property for amounts owed. The increased penalties and enforcement mechanisms follow an amendment in 2013 that already increased the potential recovery for employees to the amount of lost wages plus liquidated damages of 10 percent per working day or three times the amount of unpaid wages (whichever is smaller). The Act thus reflects a continued and overall effort to strengthen the remedies and increase the penalties when employers fail to pay workers the amount owed. The Act, by its terms, applies to violations occurring after October 1, 2014, but does not become effective until the end of a congressional review period, projected to expire on January 14, 2015, and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

This article is based on Mr. Steinbach’s Act Now Advisory.