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Proposed bill would force DC employers to rehire workers laid off during pandemic

Hundreds of thousands of people remain unemployed across the D.C. area, and many of them lost their jobs during the pandemic as businesses struggle to stay afloat.

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of people remain unemployed across the D.C. area, and many of them lost their jobs during the pandemic as businesses struggle to survive.

D.C. lawmakers hope to make sure laid-off employees get their jobs back with a bill being discussed on Tuesday.

This legislation would mean that people who got laid-off during the pandemic in 2020 would have first dibs if their positions opened back up.

Employers would be forced to offer laid-off workers their positions back first before attempting to hire someone else.

This bill is called the ‘Displaced Workers Right to Reinstatement and Retention Act.’

According to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, if you were employed before March 2020 and involuntarily lost your job for any reason other than misconduct during the pandemic, you would qualify to get your job back.

If a company has new ownership or did restructuring, it would still be mandated to follow the regulations inside the legislation.

Employees would have about 10 days to respond to the rehire offer before the employer can move on and hire another candidate, Mendelson explained in a news conference on Monday.

“The bill also speaks to hotels, restaurants, entertainment and events. It is those four sectors. So, it’s not any employee. It also speaks to businesses with 35 or more employees. So, we’re not talking about mom and pop [shops],” Mendelson explained.

The council is meeting virtually at noon on Tuesday to discuss and markup this bill.

The full council will meet one more time after Tuesday before the session ends for the year.

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