Last week, in two unanimous votes, the DC Council took preliminary actions to raise DC’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by mid-2016 and expand DC’s paid sick days law to include tipped restaurant workers. But as many District’s Dime readers know, it takes two DC Council votes for local legislation to move to the mayor’s desk. The Council likely will have an additional legislative session Dec. 17, and we hope that DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will place both important items on the agenda for a second and final vote.
As these bills move toward completion, the Council should resist an effort by the restaurant industry to water down the paid sick days legislation. The bill would protect workers who claim their workplace is not following the law, but the restaurant industry is trying to have it removed.
The so-called “rebuttable presumption” says that if an employer fires or takes “adverse action” against an employee within 90 days of a complaint over non-compliance with the paid sick leave law, law, the employer must explain that the action is not in retaliation. In other words, the employer must rebut the presumption that the action may be retaliatory. This protects workers, but it also allows employers to take action if it is warranted. This clause is based closely on San Francisco’s groundbreaking paid sick days law. Similar language was also used in the Jersey City paid sick days bill that was just passed, as well as numerous minimum wage and living wage bills around the country.
The District’s Dime looks forward to a consensus vote on both bills Dec. 17!