Earlier this year, the D.C. Council amended its displaced workers law to include special provisions for those workers separated because of the COVID pandemic.
Beginning February 1, 2021, and as positions become available, employers NOT in the hospitality industry (bars, restaurants, clubs, nightclubs, hotels), “shall offer each eligible employee reinstatement to the employee’s previous position or to a position performing the same or substantially similar duties, and that requires essentially the same skills, as those performed by the eligible employee before the eligible employee ceased working for the contractor or at the covered establishment.”
The most important exception is that this law does NOT apply to employees classified as exempt executive, administrative, or professional employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Workers who would otherwise have been terminated for cause are also not eligible.
The job offer must be in writing and delivered by mail to the last known address of the employee and remain open for at least 3 calendar days from the date of the offer. If accepted, the employee has 7 days to return to work.
There is no requirement that all former employees are reinstated or that either compensation or available hours be the same for reinstated employees. If several employees are eligible for reinstatement, simultaneous offers may be made and available jobs offered on the basis of seniority.
If there is a change of control of the business, a new employer can impose a fixed, 90-day probationary period before deciding to retain an eligible employee.
Willful violators are subject to a make-whole remedy plus treble damages plus compensatory or punitive damages plus reasonable attorney’s fees.