Earlier this year, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law legislation that will require D.C. employers to affirmatively state the pay range for available positions in job advertisements.

Quick Hits

  • The District of Columbia's Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023 will require D.C. employers to affirmatively state the pay range for available positions in job advertisements.
  • Pending approval by the U.S. Congress, the act will take effect on June 30, 2024.

Under the Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023 (D.C. Act 25-367), colloquially known as the Wage Transparency Act of 2024, an "employer" is any non–D.C. governmental or federal government entity that employs at least one person in the district.

Bills that are enacted in the District of Columbia must be approved by the U.S. Congress before becoming law. Pending approval after the thirty-day congressional review, D.C. Act 25-367 will take effect on June 30, 2024.

What specifically does the law require? The act does not require employers to state the wages in job advertisements, as that term is used in the Wage Payment and Collection Act. This is an important distinction because wages, as used in the Wage Payment and Collection Act, include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, overtime, and other remuneration. Instead, the Wage Transparency Act only requires that employers identify in their job advertisements "the minimum and maximum projected salary or hourly pay." The problem with this is identifying what "salary" really means.

The new law does not define salary; instead, the law attempts to provide employers with guidance as to what salary range means by advising:

In stating the minimum and maximum salary or hourly pay for the position, the range shall extend from the lowest to the highest salary or hourly pay that the employer in good faith believes at the time of the posting it would pay for the advertised job, promotion, or transfer opportunity. (Emphasis added.)

This explanation could cause more questions than answers. For instance, does "at the time of the posting" mean that an employer should specify the starting salary ranges or hourly pay ranges that it will offer to the applicant pool? Or does it mean that at the time of posting, an employer must identify the salary or hourly pay's floor and ceiling for the life of the position? Arguably, the former and not the latter. Either option means that employers may have to consider more thoroughly how they negotiate starting pay. Employers may want to look at creating objective and defensible reasons for offering different starting salaries or hourly pay for a position for which they are actively seeking applicants.

Unlike some other state wage transparency laws, D.C. does not require employers to provide their health benefits in job advertisements. However, before the first interview, the employer must disclose the type of health benefits available to the prospective employee. The law is unclear on the details concerning health benefits that must be provided to the prospective employee. For instance, it is unclear whether employers are only expected to disclose whether they offer health, dental, and vision benefits. It is also unclear whether employers will be required to be more granular by providing the names of the various providers and the expected employer-employee contributions. Additionally, prospective employers will be prohibited from screening employees based on their wage histories. This means a prospective employer cannot inquire about a job candidate's wage history. Nor can an employer inquire about a candidate's wage history from representatives of the candidate's previous employers.

What happens if an employer fails to provide the required disclosures (salary range and/or health benefits)? There is no private cause of action, but the prospective employee can ask about the disclosures. The District of Columbia's attorney general's office also has enforcement authority.

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