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Washington, D.C. Prepares to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 — and Tipped Minimum Wage to $5.00 — by July 1, 2020

Washington, D.C. is poised to join California and New York by raising its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

On June 7, 2016, the D.C. Council, with support of Mayor Muriel Bowser, unanimously passed on first reading the Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2016 . The bill will continue to raise the District of Columbia minimum wage – currently $10.50, but previously set to increase to $11.50 on July 1, 2016 – in additional annual increments until it reaches $15.00 by July 1, 2020. Beginning on July 1, 2021, the minimum wage will increase further based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Notably, the bill will also increase the tipped minimum wage from the existing $2.77 per hour, where it has been since 2005, in annual increments of 56 cents (55 cents in 2020) to $5.00 on July 1, 2020, again with annual indexing in successive years. This increase in the tipped minimum wage represents a compromise between advocates who sought to eliminate any lower minimum wage for tipped employees, or to at least set a higher rate of half the minimum wage as Mayor Bowser originally proposed, and significant portions of the restaurant industry that resisted any increase at all.

The law also contains special provisions for government contractors that currently are covered by D.C.’s Living Wage Act, which generally require them to pay the minimum wage if it becomes higher that the living wage (currently $13.85, but also subject to annual adjustment). In addition, for the first time, District employees are covered by the D.C. minimum wage law.

The bill still faces a second vote, likely either on June 21 or 28, 2016, at which time it is possible there may be some amendments. After Mayor Bowser signs the bill, it is subject to a Congressional review period, but is expected to take full effect well in advance of the 2017 increases.

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About this Author

Brian Steinbach, Labor Attorney, Epstein Law Firm
Senior Attorney

BRIAN STEINBACH is a Senior Attorney in the Labor and Employment practice, in the firm's Washington, DC, office.

Mr. Steinbach's experience includes:

  • Advising clients on and litigating employment, labor, disabilities, non-compete, confidentiality, benefits, wage and hour, and general litigation matters before the courts, arbitrators, and administrative agencies at the federal and state level

  • Representing and advising clients in Sarbanes-Oxley and other...

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