Paid Sick Days Amendment Law of 2013


In 2008, advocates across the city won a law providing paid sick days for DC workers across the city, however tipped restaurant workers were left out of the law. In 2009, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-DC) formed as a brand new organization and conducted research of nearly 600 area restaurant workers.

The survey found that despite being covered by the new law, back-of-the-house restaurant workers were for the most part not receiving paid sick days. Instead, both back- and front-of-the-house workers were coming in to work and preparing and serving food while sick.

In 2010, ROC-DC asked DC JWJ for support in training and forming a coalition in order to amend the 2008 law to cover all DC workers. DC JWJ brought together their members to form the core steering committee of ROC-DC, JUFJ, and the DC Employment Justice Center (DC EJC) to lead the campaign, plus over 130 ally organizations. After three years of advocacy, creative public actions, and public narrative shift around protecting public health, the coalition won the Paid Sick Days Amendment Act of 2013, providing between three and seven annual paid sick days to restaurant workers across DC. 

After the victory, DC JWJ, ROC-DC, DC EJC, and Jews United for Justice continued to do targeted public education about workers rights, especially for restaurant workers and owners. But seeing that there was a lack of concerted effort by the DC government to implement the law, DC JWJ and DC EJC teamed up to form and steer the DC Just Pay coalition, a coalition dedicated to implementing DC’s workers rights law through public education, government accountability, and workplace justice campaigns at employers who continue to violate the law.

Written by Nikki MG Cole

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