Washington, D.C. Wage Law

There are important laws employers are required to follow regarding employees’ compensation. Unfortunately, companies sometimes violate these laws, leaving their employees feeling helpless. The following is a list of some of the most important wage and hour laws in the District of Columbia that you need to know about.

MINIMUM WAGE

The minimum wage is the lowest amount an employer can pay a worker per hour, with some exceptions.

The minimum wage in the District was recently increased to $9.50 per hour, effective July 1, 2014. The base minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers in the District of Columbia is $2.77 per hour; however, if an employee’s hourly tip earnings (averaged weekly) do not equal to the D.C. full minimum wage, the employer must pay the difference.

In the District of Columbia, there is also a minimum daily wage, which means that a D.C. wage earner must be paid for at least four hours on each day that he or she reports to work unless the employee is regularly scheduled to work less than four hours.

LIVING WAGE

The D.C. Living Wage Act requires certain D.C. government contractors to pay their workers a living wage. “Living wage” is a term used to refer to the minimum amount of money people in a particular locality are thought to need in order to be able to cover their basic needs.

The 2014 Living Wage for employees of D.C. government contractors is now $13.60 per hour. The D.C. Living Wage Act applies to subcontractors of D.C. government subcontractors who receive $15,000 or more from their contracts. It also applies to subcontractors of the recipients of government assistance who receive $50,000 or more from the assistance. Some exceptions to the D.C. Living Wage Act include, but are not limited to: contracts or other agreements subject to higher wage-level pay rates required by federal law; existing and future collective bargaining agreements, as long as the future collective bargaining agreement results in the worker being paid no less than the current living wage; and contracts for electricity, telephone, water, sewer or other services provided by a regulated utility.

The Department of Employment Services (DOES) and the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) share the responsibility of monitoring Living Wage Act.

OTHER WAGE AND HOUR LAWS THAT PROTECT WORKERS IN WASHINGTON D.C.
  • D.C. Wage Payment and Wage Collection Law: requires all employers pay their employees at least twice monthly on specified paydays, pay all earned and promised wages, and pay wages timely upon termination of employment
  • D.C. Wage Garnishment Law: protects D.C. wage earners from unlawful garnishments of their wages.
  • D.C. Wage Theft Prevention Act: wage theft occurs when an employer refuses to pay part or all of a worker’s regular wages, overtime, or other earned compensation, or when workers are misclassified as independent contractors. The D.C. Council passed the Wage Theft Prevent Action on July 18, 2014 to help curb this unlawful practice. The Act establishes formal procedures to help victims of wage theft recover unpaid wages and damages by: increasing the penalties for those responsible for committing wage theft; providing greater protection against retaliation for workers who file complaints of wage theft; and making it easier for victims of wage theft to obtain an attorney.
REMEDIES

Any employees who have been paid less than they were owed under D.C.’s minimum wage provisions can recover unpaid wages plus an “additional amount” as liquidated (doubled) damages. In addition, all plaintiffs who prevail in wage payment and collection cases under D.C. law are entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs.

If your employer fails to pay you in accordance with these laws, the Erlich Law Office can help you recover money you are owed. Please contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.