Public Advocacy Division
The Public Advocacy Division promotes the rights of District residents through civil enforcement actions—with a particular emphasis on protecting vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. The Division is focused on civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer protection, housing conditions, antitrust, non-profit enforcement, environmental enforcement, and protecting elders and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. The Division also works with advocacy partners and other jurisdictions to tackle federal and nationwide issues that affect the rights of those living or working in the District.
Civil Rights Section
The Civil Rights Section engages with individuals, advocacy organizations, and community groups to investigate and litigate discriminatory policies and practices that harm District residents, including discrimination in housing, education, public accommodations, and employment. The Section also advocates for legislation to strengthen anti-discrimination laws and engages in community outreach to educate residents regarding their rights.
Elder Justice Section
The Elder Justice Section protects District elders and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. The Section investigates and pursues civil cases to stop financial exploitation, seeks restitution for victims, and obtains civil penalties against perpetrators, under the District’s Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults and the Elderly Act and other statutes. The Section also works with agency and nonprofit partners to address systemic issues affecting older District residents and conducts community outreach to raise awareness of financial exploitation and to increase reporting.
Social Justice Section
The Social Justice Section litigates cases essential to preserving safe and habitable housing and enforces environmental laws that disproportionately impact low-income communities of color in the District. The Section holds landlords accountable when they fail to maintain rental units in accordance with the Housing Code and takes action to protect communities from drug, firearm and prostitution-related nuisances by enforcing the District’s Tenant Receivership Act and Nuisance Abatement Act. The Section’s environmental attorneys represent the District in utility rate-setting cases before the Public Service Commission and investigate and litigate matters under the District’s environmental laws that govern waste management, lead paint, engine idling, and water pollution control to ensure District residents have access to clean water and air and lead-free housing. The Section also drafts and supports legislation designed to protect tenants and the environment and regularly works with advocacy partners and the District’s Department of Energy and the Environment to ensure the District timely and relevantly respond to matters of most importance to our communities. In addition, the environmental attorneys contribute regularly to multi-state environmental litigation and comment letters.
Office of Consumer Protection
The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) enforces the District's consumer protection laws and other public protection laws, including those related to debt collection and privacy. OCP investigates and litigates against businesses that are taking advantage of consumers to stop unlawful practices, obtain restitution and damages for consumers who have been harmed, and impose penalties to defer future unlawful conduct. OCP also mediates disputes between consumers and businesses. Finally, OCP drafts and supports legislation that protects consumers, and educates consumers through outreach events, an up-to-date online Consumer Resources library, and the distribution of consumer protection guides.
Public Integrity Section
The Public Integrity Section enforces District and federal antitrust law and District statutes and common law relating to nonprofit corporations and charities. The Section investigates and litigates matters involving harm to competition in the District and beyond, including as part of regional and national multi-state groups. These cases include challenges to mergers that may harm competition and to exclusionary conduct of companies in almost any industry. The Section can obtain injunctive relief to stop these practices, civil penalties, and damages on the behalf of the District if applicable. The Section also enforces the District’s Nonprofit Corporations Act to ensure that nonprofits incorporated in or doing business in the District comply with the law and their charitable purposes. The Section also utilizes the Attorney General’s traditional common law authority of standing in the shoes of the public, as the beneficiary of charitable organizations, to ensure that charitable funds are not wasted and directors, officers, and trustees of charitable organizations act in the best interests on the entities.
Workers’ Rights and Antifraud Section
The Workers’ Rights and Antifraud Section holds employers accountable for paying the wages they owe their employees. The Section protects workers’ rights to minimum wage, overtime pay, and sick and safe leave. It also investigates and litigates against businesses that misclassify their employees as independent contractors to avoid the protections accorded workers by District law. The Section also seeks recovery from companies and individuals who defraud the District, resulting in the loss of public funds, including non-resident tuition fraud.
Learn more about this Section’s work to protect workers’ rights.