Warning! Some DC Companies Must First Offer Re-Hire to Laid Off Employees

DWRA – Summary

The Displaced Workers Right to Reinstatement and Retention Amendment Act of 2020 became effective on April 27, 2021. The act is set to expire on June 30, 2023, along with two subsections encompassing the act’s enforcement and retaliation provisions, expiring on June 30, 2024.

Which Employers are covered?

The Act applies to qualifying employers, which may include operators of hotels, restaurants, taverns, brewpubs, nightclubs, clubs, event or entertainment establishments or venues at which live performing arts, sporting events, or other entertainment events are held, and business engaged in the sale of goods to consumers, but does not include wholesalers. The Act also applies to some qualifying contractors.

The Act does not specify if an employer or contractor should count only their employees working in D.C., or all employees, when determining if the Act applies.

Which Employees are covered?

Laid off or fired employees of qualifying establishments who ceased working for reasons other than voluntary-resignation or termination-for-cause may be eligible for protection under the Act. The Act excludes (i) employees who were classified as “exempt” under the FLSA, (ii) employees who received severance upon termination, and (iii) employees who could have been terminated for cause before the layoffs.

The Act provides eligible employees with two rights:

1) The right to reinstatement; and

2) The right to be hired and retained by the new entity if there has been a change in control of the employer’s business.

Employer Obligations

As positions become available, qualifying employers must:

  1. Offer reinstatement to eligible employees for their previous or similar positions,
  2. Offer of reinstatement in writing, and
  3. Qualifying employers shall not hire new employees for a position until they have met the requirements under the Act for reinstating all past eligible employees.


Eligible employees may bring an action against a qualifying employer under this Act on an individual or class basis. Upon prevailing, the employee may be awarded back pay for each day the violation continues, compensatory or punitive damages, and/or reasonable attorney fees and costs of the suit.

Meredith S. Campbell
Chair Employment and Labor Group
Co-Chair Corporate Investigations, Governance & Risk Management

Email [email protected] T(301)255-0550