Code of the District of Columbia

§ 32–1311. Retaliation.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any employer to discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee or person because that employee or person has:

(1) Made or is believed to have made a complaint to his or her employer, the Mayor, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, any federal or District employee, or to any other person that the employer has engaged in conduct that the employee, reasonably and in good faith, believes violates any provision of this chapter or the Living Wage Act, or any regulation promulgated pursuant to this chapter or the Living Wage Act;

(2) Initiated or is about to initiate a proceeding under or related to this chapter;

(3) Provided information to the Mayor, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, or any other person regarding a violation, investigation, or proceeding under this chapter;

(4) Testified or is about to testify in an investigation or proceeding under this chapter; or

(5) Otherwise exercised rights protected under this chapter.

(b) An employee complaint or other communication need not make explicit reference to any section or provision of this chapter or the Living Wage Act to trigger the protections of this section. The employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, taking adverse action against an employee within 90 days of an employee or other person’s engagement in the activities set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall raise a presumption that such action is retaliation, which may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence that such action was taken for other permissible reasons.

(c) An employee may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against any employer or other person alleged to have violated the provisions of this section. The court shall have jurisdiction to restrain violations of this section regardless of an employee’s dates of employment and to order all appropriate relief, including:

(1) Assessing a civil penalty against the employer or other person of not less $1,000 nor more than $10,000;

(2) Enjoining the conduct;

(3) Awarding liquidated damages of an amount equal to the civil penalty to the employee;

(4) Awarding front pay, lost compensation, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees to the employee;

(5) Reinstatement of an employee to his or her former position or an equivalent position with restoration of seniority; and

(6) Other forms of equitable relief.

(d) An employee may file an administrative complaint against any employer or other person alleged to have violated the provisions of this section and receive a hearing by an administrative law judge by following the same procedure as for any other violation of this chapter. If an administrative law judge finds that an employer or other person has engaged in retaliation, the administrative law judge shall, by an order which shall describe with particularity the nature of the violation, assess a civil penalty against the employer or other person of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000. The administrative law judge shall also order all appropriate relief including:

(1) Enjoining the conduct;

(2) Awarding liquidated damages of an amount equal to the civil penalty to the employee;

(3) Awarding front pay, lost compensation, costs, and reasonable attorneys” fees to the employee;

(4) Reinstatement of an employee to his or her former position or an equivalent position with restoration of seniority; and

(5) Other forms of equitable relief.

(e) No administrative penalty may be collected unless the Mayor has provided the person alleged to have violated any of the provisions of this section with notification of the violation, notification of the amount of the penalty to be imposed, and notification of the opportunity to request a formal hearing held pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-501 et seq.] and § 32-1308.01. If a formal hearing is requested, it shall be held within 30 days of the date of the request and the Mayor shall issue a final order within 30 days after the hearing. The order shall contain a finding that a violation has or has not occurred and the amount of damages, costs, interest, or penalties owed. If the person receiving the violation does not request a hearing, the person shall transmit to the Mayor the amount of the penalty within 15 days of receipt of notification of the violation.

(f) The court or administrative law judge in any action brought under this section shall, in addition to any judgment or administrative order awarded to the prevailing plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow costs of the action, including costs or fees of any nature, and reasonable attorney’s fees as calculated under § 32-1308(b) or § 32-1308.01(m), as applicable, to be paid by the defendant.


(Aug. 3, 1956, 70 Stat. 979, ch. 924, § 10a; as added Feb. 26, 2015, D.C. Law 20-157, § 2(i), 61 DCR 10157.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of D.C. Law 20-157, §2(j), adding §10b, concerning rules, to the act of Aug. 3, 1956, 70 Stat. 979, ch. 924, see § 2(a)(4) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-544, Dec. 29, 2014, 62 DCR 243, 20 STAT 4458).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 2(c) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-544, Dec. 29, 2014, 62 DCR 243, 20 STAT 4458).

For temporary (90 days) addition of section 10b, see § 2(d) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-188, Oct. 27, 2015, 62 DCR 14224).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-188, Oct. 27, 2015, 62 DCR 14224).

For temporary (90 days) addition of the Act of Aug. 3, 1956, 70 Stat. 979, ch. 924, § 10b, concerning rules, see § 2(d) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-293, Jan. 27, 2016, 63 DCR 1215).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-293, Jan. 27, 2016, 63 DCR 1215).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Law 20-240, March 13, 2015, 62 DCR 1332).

For temporary (225 days) addition of 70 Stat. 979, ch. 924, § 10b, see § 2(d) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Law 20-240, March 13, 2015, 62 DCR 1332).

For temporary (225 days) addition of the Act of Aug. 3, 1956, 70 Stat. 979, ch. 924, § 10b, concerning rules, see § 2(d) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-57, Jan. 30, 2016, 62 DCR 15602).

For temporary (225 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-57, Jan. 30, 2016, 62 DCR 15602).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-157: Section 7 of D.C. Law 20-157 provided that the act shall apply as of October 1, 2014, and that the act shall apply to violations occurring after October 1, 2014.