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District of Columbia Requires Salary and Wage Disclosures in Job Listings
Thursday, January 18, 2024

On January 12, 2024, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023, which broadens D.C.’s existing pay transparency laws and requires employers in D.C. to list salary and hourly wage information in job advertisements. In imposing these new requirements, D.C. joins a nationwide trend of jurisdictions requiring that employers provide upfront pay disclosures to employees, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, New York, and Washington.

Salary Range Requirements in Job Listings

The new law applies to all businesses employing one or more employees in D.C., so even the smallest employers (or those with only a single remote employee in the District) are subject to its requirements. Employers must provide a salary or hourly wage range in job listings and advertisements listing the minimum and maximum projected pay for the position in question. The range should encompass the lowest and highest amounts the employer believes, in good faith, it would pay for the position. In addition to advertisements for new hires, the salary range obligation also applies to an employer’s internal listings for promotion or transfer opportunities. Employers must also disclose to applicants, prior to the first interview, the healthcare benefits that will be provided for the position. If an employer fails to make these disclosures, the applicant is provided the right to inquire about the position’s salary range and benefits, with such inquiries being protected against retaliation.

Non-compliance with these requirements is punishable by civil fines of $1,000 for a first violation, $5,000 for a second violation, and $20,000 for each subsequent violation. Enforcement of the law is exclusively lodged with the D.C. Attorney General, as the law explicitly provides that it is not enforceable by employees or applicants through a private cause of action.

Nationwide, the proliferation of salary range disclosure requirements has raised several areas of ambiguity. Perhaps the foremost is what positions the disclosure requirement covers in the age of remote and hybrid employment. The new D.C. law does not provide guidance or address the question, but other jurisdictions imposing similar requirements have taken the position that if a remote position can potentially be performed in-jurisdiction, then it is subject to the disclosure requirement. The D.C. law does provide guidance about the types of compensation that must be disclosed, which are limited to salary and hourly pay and presumably do not include commissions, bonuses, equity, or other types of pay.

Expansion of Existing Pay Transparency Laws

The new law also expands D.C.’s existing pay transparency laws, which date from 2015. These laws prohibit employers from banning employees from discussing their own or another employee’s pay or taking disciplinary action against employees who engage in such discussion. D.C. has broadened this obligation by extending it to all forms of “compensation,” defined to include all monetary and nonmonetary benefits provided for employment, rather than just wages.

More substantively, employers are now prohibited from screening applicants based on their compensation history, such as by imposing minimum or maximum criteria for an applicant’s prior compensation. Employers are also now prohibited from seeking salary or wage history from applicants, both directly and indirectly through inquiries to their former employers.

Takeaway

When New York City imposed the first salary range disclosure requirement in 2022, we outlined three steps that employers should take to prepare for salary disclosure. Those steps remain applicable today. D.C. employers will also need to update pay transparency policies and post a new notice of the pay transparency law to employees.

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