D.C. Enacts COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protections

On August 13, 2020, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the “Protecting Businesses and Workers from COVID-19 Emergency Amendment Act of 2020”. The Act requires all employers with at least one employee in D.C. to implement social distancing and workplace protection policies in alignment with the Mayor’s Order 2020-080. This temporary law, which will remain in effect from August 13 through November 11, 2020, includes the following:

  • Employers must ensure that all persons entering the workplace wear face coverings, except customers who are eating, drinking, or engaging in socially distanced exercising;
  • Employers are authorized to require employees to report a positive COVID-19 test. Employers may not disclose the identity of the employee except to the Department of Health or other DC or federal agencies responsible for contact tracing;
  • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who refuses to serve a customer or client or work within 6 feet of another individual who is not complying with the employer’s social distancing policy; and
  • Employers may not take adverse action against an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 (unless the employee reports to work after testing positive), is symptomatic and awaiting test results, is required to quarantine after exposure, or is caring for someone who is symptomatic or quarantined.

Employers that fail to implement the Act may be subject to a penalty equal to $50 per employee per day. Additionally, employers face a $500 administrative penalty each time they violate the Act’s anti-retaliation provisions.