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Refusing to Serve the Alt-Right: Recommendations for DC Area Businesses Hoping to Exclude Hate Group Members from Entry

With the growth of the Alt-Right and other hate groups in recent years, business owners face increased challenges to uphold values of diversity, ensure employee and customer safety, and protect their brand from association with customers’ possible bigotry. At the same time, questions have arisen regarding when a business may lawfully refuse to welcome or serve customers based on their views against diversity. These questions will flare up again in Washington, D.C. this weekend as white supremacist organizations convene for a “Unite the Right” rally commemorating last year's rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Restaurants and other business owners have good arguments that they may lawfully refuse entry or service to customers who appear associated with hate groups.

D.C. Employers Face Minimum Wage Increase For Tipped Workers

Employers of tipped workers in Washington, D.C. may soon face a tipping point of their own as the result of a voter initiative just approved by voters. If the law takes effect, the minimum rate of pay for such workers will steadily increase for at least the next eight years. However, before the wage hike takes effect, either Congress or the D.C. Council could take action to prevent the increase from taking effect, so employers should stay aware of developments to determine their future obligations.

The District of Columbia Eliminates the "Tip Credit"

On Tuesday, June 19, 2018, residents of the District Columbia voted to approve Initiative 77, which will incrementally phase out the “tip credit” that many employers use as an offset towards their minimum wage obligations to employees who also earn tips in connection with their work. Presently, the minimum wage in the District of Columbia is $12.50 per hour.1 However, establishments like restaurants, where tipping is common, only have to pay tipped employees $3.33 per hour2—provided that the employees’ direct wages and total tips add up to $12.50 an hour by the end of the week. If the food service worker does not earn enough in tips to reach the $12.50 per hour threshold, then the restaurant owner has to make up the difference. Initiative 77 ends this practice.

District of Columbia Voters Approve Initiative to Phase Out Minimum Wage Tip Credit by 2026

Voters in the District of Columbia have approved a ballot initiative* that will, if enacted, gradually increase the minimum direct cash wage for tipped employees so that they receive the same minimum wage directly from their employer as non-tipped employees by 2026.

D.C. District Court Rebuffs DACA Rescission

On April 24, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Declaring DHS’s action to be “unlawful” and “arbitrary and capricious,” the court issued an order vacating the rescission, but permitted the Trump administration 90 days to salvage its efforts to end the program by better explaining its reasoning. As a result of the court order, should the administration fail to provide a more complete and compelling explanation to support its decision to end the program, DHS will be required to accept and process new DACA applications, as well as renewal DACA applications.

District of Columbia Enacts the Universal Paid Leave Act

In late 2016, after more than a year of debate, the District of Columbia Council voted to create one of the most generous paid leave laws in the country. After making it through the congressional review period, the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015 (“the Act”) became effective on April 7, 2017. The Act provides covered employees with 8 weeks of paid parental leave, 6 weeks of paid family leave, and 2 weeks of paid personal medical leave. The paid leave will be funded by a 0.62% increase in DC employer payroll taxes.

New D.C. Law Restricts Employer Use of Credit Histories in Employment Decisions

On February 15, 2017, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the District of Columbia’s Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act of 2016 (FCEAA). This Act, which amends the District’s Human Rights Act of 1977, follows other jurisdictions, such as New York City and Philadelphia, in significantly restricting an employer’s ability to inquire into or use an applicant’s or employee’s credit history in making employment decisions. The Act is expected to go into effect after (1) a 30-day period of congressional review and (2) publication in the District of Columbia Register.

District of Columbia Mayor Signs Law Restricting Employers from Using Credit Information in Employment Decisions

On February 15, 2017, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a bill prohibiting, with limited exceptions, employers’ use of or obtaining a job applicant's or employee's credit information for employment purposes. D.C. joins the growing list of jurisdictions that have enacted similar laws: California, Chicago, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New York City, Oregon, Philadelphia, Vermont, and Washington.1

DC Mayor Declines to Veto DC’s Paid Family Leave Bill

Back in December 2016, we wrote an article discussing the passage of the District of Columbia Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (“the Act”) by a 9 to 4 DC City Council vote on December 20th. We explained that the next step was for the Act to be presented to Mayor Muriel Bowser. At that time, Mayor Bowser had expressed concerns about the Act and stated that she would not sign it.

D.C. Council Passes Ban on Credit History Screens on Job Applicants, Interns, Employees

The Washington D.C. Council unanimously passed the “Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act” (Bill 21-244) to amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 and prevent employers from taking discriminatory action against applicants, interns and employees based on the individual’s “credit information.”