WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced that Airway Sheet Metal Co., Inc. will pay more than $100,000 in unpaid wages to 40 sheet metal workers as part of a settlement in a wage-theft case with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The settlement, which will return an average of $2,763.70 in back wages to each worker, is OAG’s largest recovery to date in a wage-enforcement action in both value and the number of affected workers.
“In this case, the Office of the Attorney General is standing up for workers whose rights have been violated,” said AG Racine. “With this action we are sending a strong message to employers that we will hold them accountable if they break the District’s wage and hour laws and fail to pay their workers what they rightfully earned.”
Airway Sheet Metal Co., Inc. is based in Sterling, Virginia and operated in the District from 2015 to 2017. The company conducts sheet metal fabrication work, often on HVAC systems for commercial buildings.
OAG’s investigation found evidence that, from 2015 to 2017, Airway failed to properly pay its workers overtime rates and failed to provide them with any paid sick leave, as required by District law. OAG’s settlement with Airway resolves a wage-theft investigation OAG began in 2018. The settlement requires Airway to:
- Pay $110,548.20 in unpaid wages to 40 workers: Airway is required to pay $110,548.20 in back wages the 40 workers earned in overtime and sick leave, but that the company failed to pay. Airway is also required to make the payment within 30 days of April 19, when the parties signed the agreement.
- Pay $5,000 to the District: Airway is required to pay the District $5,000 toward the city’s costs in pursuing the case.
- Implement measures to comply with the District’s wage and sick-leave laws: Airway is required to institute compliance and reporting measures to ensure future compliance with the District’s Minimum Wage Act and Sick and Safe Leave Act. Within 60 days of the settlement’s execution, Airway must report to the District confirming that the company has implemented the new policies and systems.
AG Racine commended the company for cooperating with OAG’s investigation and added: “Airways worked quickly to reach an agreement that will ensure their workers will be paid the wages they are owed.”
A copy of the settlement agreement is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-04/Airway-Settlement-Agreement.pdf
What is Wage Theft?
Wage theft is the illegal practice of denying workers the wages or benefits they’ve earned. This happens when employers withhold pay, pay less than the required minimum wage, force workers to work extra hours without pay, refuse to pay overtime, or misclassify employees as contractors. Wage theft affects millions of workers nationally and happens across job types and income levels. Workers in low-wage jobs and immigrants are especially vulnerable to this type of exploitation.
OAG’s Increased Efforts to Fight Wage Theft
Last year, OAG stepped up wage theft enforcement after working with the D.C. Council on legislation granting the agency independent authority to investigate and bring these cases. The legislation also increased penalties on employers who violate the District’s wage and hour laws. As a result, OAG can now seek to recover stolen wages, restitution of up to three times the amount of unpaid wages, and penalties from employers, and can also bring criminal charges. So far, OAG has launched more than 30 investigations into wage theft and worker misclassification, and has taken action against a home health care service provider, a national electrical contracting firm, KFC franchises, a cell phone store, a cafe chain, and other businesses that harmed District workers. To date, OAG has obtained over $250,000.00 in judgments and settlements against businesses that have stolen wages from District workers.
How to Report Wage Theft Violations
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated, or that they have experienced wage theft or other wage and hour violations, can contact OAG by phone at (202) 442-9854. Workers can learn about their rights under District law and how they can get help if their rights are being violated at: https://oag.dc.gov/workers-right