New D.C. Law Says Restaurants Must Rehire Staff They Were Forced To Lay Off

The new law layers more bureaucratic requirements on a hospitality industry trying to bounce back from its worst year on record.


In the space of two days, local lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have made it harder for the city's restaurants to both retain staff they currently employ and hire new workers once the pandemic is over.

On Monday, the District slashed restaurants' allowable indoor capacity to 25 percent, down from 50 percent.

This reduction wasn't a surprise for restaurants, given that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had announced the coming restrictions some three weeks ago. It's nevertheless a blow for business owners who've been devastated by the pandemic, lockdown orders, civil unrest, rioting, and everything else 2020 has thrown at them.

Should a restaurant manage to survive the winter and the District's limits on indoor dining capacity, they'll find their ability to scale up their operations come springtime more difficult thanks to a bill passed by the D.C. City Council on Tuesday.

That bill will require restaurants, bars, and retail stores that had 50 or more employees up until March 2020 to offer to rehire staff they let go during the pandemic. Hotels will have to offer to hire back employees that were let go as long ago as December 1, 2019, about two months before the U.S. had its first confirmed coronavirus case.

Workers will have three days to accept or reject an offer to come back to their old job. Business owners will have to offer to rehire all their former workers before they can start shopping around for new talent.

Should a business change ownership, the new owners still be required to offer people employed by the old management their jobs back. They'll also be required to keep those employees on for at least 90 days. At the end of that period, this new employer will have to fill out a performance evaluation of their employees, and offer to keep them on staff so long as their performance was "satisfactory."

The above provision doesn't apply to employees of bars and restaurants unless the change in ownership has "no demonstrable" effect on that business's operations. Businesses won't be forced to rehire employees that had quit voluntarily or were fired for cause.

One obvious criticism of this new law is that it piles a bunch of bureaucratic requirements onto something that business owners would already be doing: rehiring experienced, reliable staff.

"The natural thing to do is rehire the folks that were already trained and who did a good job for you," Dan Simons, a D.C. restauranter, told DCist. "Now we have restaurants failing left and right. It seems to me the way to help workers is to help restaurants exist as businesses. When restaurants have customers, we need employees."

At best, this new "right to reinstatement" law just makes this whole process more cumbersome and inflexible. That's hardly ideal when an industry is trying to bounce back from its worst year on record.

"During this time we need to focus on supporting restaurants, not imposing burdens that will make it more difficult for restaurants to operate, to keep their doors open and to staff back up to pre-pandemic levels," said the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) in an email urging people to oppose the new D.C. law.

Some 95 restaurants have closed in D.C. during the pandemic, and restaurant sales are down 55 percent, reports DCist, citing numbers from RAMW.

At worst, this new law will freeze out new workers trying to enter the restaurant industry. They'll have to get in line behind everyone else who has already had a job, regardless of how eager and able they are to work. That's not a great set up for younger folks just entering the workforce, or for new arrivals to the city looking for a job.

Granted, screwing over younger workers seems to be the intent of the union activists who've pushed this proposal. They've expressed fears that businesses getting back up on their feet will opt for hiring less experienced employees at lower wages.

The pandemic, and all the public health regulations that have come with it, have been devastating for the hospitality industry. Businesses that make it out of this year alive will no doubt be eager to get back to something approaching business as usual. Politicians in D.C. appear eager to make that as hard as possible.

NEXT: Americans Are in Full Revolt Against Pandemic Lockdowns

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Corona is big threat of the century which effect physically, mentally and financially To over come these difficulties and make full use of this hostage period and make online earning for more detail visit the given link…………. Here is More information.

  2. “It’s nevertheless a blow for business owners who’ve been devastated by the pandemic, lockdown orders, civil unrest, rioting, and everything else 2020 has thrown at them.”

    And yet they continue to vote them into office.

    1. So why do they?

      Is it a coordination problem? The projection that, since a Democrat is bound to win anyway, they’d better back a Democrat in order to have a seat at the table? The understanding that to elect a non-Democrat, they need enough voters, and since they don’t see those voters, they assume they can’t assemble enough of them?

      1. The problem is air conditioning and yellow fever vaccine and malaria eradication. Before those three things, DC was such a hell hole people fled from there whenever possible, but since those three things, DC is a refuge for those who desire to be close to power and pull the levers. Thus why they keep electing individuals who give the government more power.

        1. Note all three of those things were a benefit for society overall, but like most things they have their trade-offs. Making DC a desirable living locale is one of the undesired outcomes.

    2. wait, rioting? there weren’t that many right wing protests in DC.

  3. Stop voting for democrats and this neo marxist bullshit will end.

    1. But what about norms and mean tweets?

      1. Norm can tweet whatever he wants

        1. Once again proving my theory that German’s love David Hasselhoff.

  4. What if they were fired for being a shit employee and it just so happened to line up with COVID?

    1. One exception is “fired for cause”.

    2. “Businesses won’t be forced to rehire employees that had quit voluntarily or were fired for cause.”

      1. Well, a lot of them were fired ’cause the virus – – – – – –

  5. And you assholes thought Democrats weren’t thinking about the little guy.

    1. Look, at least an adult will be in the White House now. Remember, the only thing that’s really important is how we think we look to the European elites.

      So, mean tweets and fake tans are right out. Back to the status quo – that’s what libertarianism is all about, right?

      1. The warm, comforting womb of center-left politics.

        1. And you get to fuck the leftist “babes” after the protest march.

          1. Those are dudes

    2. LOL

  6. So bowser is a villan? Let’s hope some dego plumber bashes her in the head with a sledge hammer

    1. hey man my kids are part dago! watch it with the anti i-talian slurs

      1. WOP sorry about that

        1. *woops *woops

          1. Pretty flat jokes.

            1. I thought they were good!!

            2. I got it…

  7. First things first: I wonder if they’ll be able to scale back up. What with the way Fauci and “experts” like Bill Gates are talking, there won’t be any scaling up.

    1. if the lockdowns continue, every small business will go under. all their dining rooms and kitchens and equipment will be bought up at salvage by big corporations with unlimited debt financing.

  8. 93% of DC voted for Harris/Biden.

  9. Good and hard.

  10. So, if I worked at place A but wanted to work at place B – now that everyone is starting to rehire from scratch, I won’t be allowed to try to get a spot in place B because place B is required to hire other people?

    Instead, I’ll have to go back to place A? Even if place B offers more money or better conditions – I’m just screwed out of even attempting.

    1. Well, that’s what you get for voting for democrats.
      Now shut up and go take the shit job assigned to you by your betters.

      1. It really is that simple.

    2. if you insist on trying to rise to a higher quintile, you’re going to break the narrative. equality means you have to stay where you started.

    3. An introduction to soviet America

    4. That’s how Democrat leaders must assume the world works (for other people): You finish school and get a job, and you’re stuck in that job forever. Otherwise their bloviating about the minimum wage and many other things makes no sense.

    5. In case you had any illusions about “owning” a business, or being able to make decisions about your own property, they’re here to set you straight.

      What do they call it when businesses are nominally private but operate at the direction of the government?

  11. this is a pretty stupid and oppressive law. not sure how this makes any sense at all. if a help wanted sign goes up and a former employee walks in, one would assume they would likely be given some priority if they were any good. not sure who thought something like this was even needed.

    1. It’s that ‘any good’ part the democrats are trying to take away.

      1. Exactly. Mediocre workers deserve jobs too. Even at the expense of more competent workers who came on the scene late. Ideally, all restaurants would be required to sign a contract with SIEU, which would assign workers to restaurants strictly on the basis of seniority. In the interest of “fairness.”

    2. This is not about making sense. This is about pointing to this law by the pols so they can say they did “something” for the workers. The appeal is entirely emotional, not intellectual.

    1. Stop it. This is real????

      “The venture capitalist turned artist, whose studio is in the pool house of his Hollywood Hills home, creates his work with a metal straw he uses to blow alcohol ink onto Japanese Yupo paper, creating abstract layers of colors and concentric circles. Painting “puts my energy toward something positive,” Biden explained.”

  12. New D.C. Law Says Restaurants Must Rehire Staff They Were Forced To Lay Off

    God damn these Republican fascists running D.C.!

  13. You know what? I am glad the DC mayor did this. Why? Because it will absolutely show the consequence of socialist policies. How so? Because if you think 95 restaurants tanking in DC is bad, just what do you think will happen when you over-regulate amidst a financial crisis? It will be a hell of a lot more. Let DC now bear the direct consequences of their own policies. More power to them.

    When DC fails, and it surely will fail like other Team D run areas, it will make the difference that much more stark between Team D and Team R.

    1. Right! And then those idiots will learn their lesson!

      Wait, what?

    2. They’ll blame it on the kulaks like they always do.

      Some restaurant owner will have done the smart thing and got the fuck out of DC, thus making it ridiculous to hire restaurant staff in DC, and this will all be his and people like him’s fault when it fails in spectacular fashion.

      If only Mayor Bowser had the ability to just take his money she could be sure it was spent properly, but since she can’t the kulaks’ greediness has doomed all those poor bartenders and servers. Clearly the answer is more regulation and centralized authority, not less.

    3. None of this will not change bad policy

      DC will just get bailed out by the federal government or raise taxes again. Taxpayers always pay for these kinds of failures.

  14. Why the hell does anyone think the lockdowns will be after after winter?

    They’re permanent. As can be evidenced by total lack of any criteria for ending the lockdowns.

    1. Flu season lasts on into spring. Then the mosquitoes start emerging and spreading zika, west nile, etc. Warm summertime weather helps spread intestinal bacteria. Kids going back to school in the fall will have rota- and rhinovirus spreading like wildfire…

      Thank goodness the “new normal” will keep us all safe.

    2. And you cheered for it. Weird. But you’ll claim you were never for the election outcomes. It just was the one that made you happy at the time.

    3. between the vaccine, herd immunity, and warmer weather, COVID-19 is hopefully disappearing as a serious concern by early May. and if businesses aren’t allowed to reopen fully by then, governments won’t have enough tax revenue to stay in business themselves.

      1. They’ll just sell the country to China, I mean incur more debt, to finance their boondoggle

      2. Covid-19 was never a serious concern.

  15. Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind.

    Payback for voting for all those democrats.

    1. No no no. Now that orange man bad is out, they will pretend the democrats are slightly bad too.

    2. I doubt the people signing the paychecks vote D.

      1. Perhaps not, but statistics indicate that just about all of the people expecting paychecks DO.

        Which, of course, is why the Fascists handed down this new demand.

      2. It’s DC, I’ll take that bet.

        1. And you gonna regret
          Because I’m the best there’s ever goin’ to be.


          1. * gonna be

            Also RIP Charlie Daniels.

            1. * gonna be

              Also RIP Charlie Daniels.

              1. Funny thing is that song wasn’t even supposed to be on the album but they put it on their because they didn’t have a diddling song and made Country History.

  16. All of this nonsense does is point up how woefully inadequate government at all levels has become in the face of a crisis, either real or perceived.

  17. Mommy government keeps me safe.

  18. Stalinism. Near-total government control of every aspect of every business. Much the ‘free market’ in our country is really just private ownership of government rules.

  19. It’s stupid red tape. Not only do you have to offer to hire the same people back before you hire new people, you have to do it in order of seniority.

  20. I’m sure Arlington would be happy to have new businesses set up shop.

    1. The People’s Republic of Arlington will follow DC soon enough.

  21. Just another step on their way to a post-money economy. They will pass more laws to define what each work day entails, and then laws describing the rations of various goods that each person is entitled to. Of course, this system might break down when out-of-D.C suppliers get told what they must send to the city–just because.

  22. I’m surprised that Reason would condemn what is being done by the people they worked so hard to put into the Oval Office.

    1. I’m surprised anyone is stupid enough to think a D.C. policy has anything to do with a guy who hasn’t even assumed an unrelated office yet.

  23. Anyone else notice how this is union rules being forced on non-union businesses?
    Strange, huh?

    I wonder where the lobbyists will go to pass money under the table when there are no restaurants left in DC?

  24. There’s always plenty of seating for governors, mayors, and lobbyists though.

  25. The Wood Duck is probably the most amazingly colorful waterfowl in the world. The Wood Duck male bird has a metallic, purple-green head and ridge. His abdomen is white and his chest is dark red. Along the neck, they have attractive, narrow white stripes. Their wings are colored in blue and black.

    Female ducks are not as colorful as males. They have a gray-brown head, white belly, and a white chest. The male bird uses its colorful plumage to attract females during the breeding season.

    These ducks live in swamps, wooded swamps, and streams throughout North America. With unique colors and shapes, these ducks are also one of the most easily recognizable birds in North America. Unlike other poultry, they nest in tree holes and form groups.
    The Wood Duck is probably the most amazingly colorful waterfowl in the world.

    1. Wood Ducks are sexist.

  26. Those restaurants that are out of business won’t be hiring anyone, ant that will be mos of them.

  27. The city is overwhelmingly democrat and always has been anti-business. I have no sympathy as the city is about 90% democrat. They voted for it, they knew the attitude of the city government.

    Either vote differently or do business elsewhere.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.