WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced that Matchbox Food Group, LLC, which owns and operates Matchbox restaurants, will pay more than $142,000 in unpaid wages to over 100 workers as part of a settlement with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The settlement resolves OAG’s wage theft investigation into allegations that the company failed to pay some types of workers, including bussers and runners, the District’s minimum wage from 2016 through 2018. The settlement also resolves alleged minimum wage violations at Ted’s Bulletin restaurants, which Matchbox formerly operated. In addition to paying restitution to affected workers, Matchbox will make a $5,000 payment to the District and implement new policies and systems to ensure it is in full compliance with the District’s minimum wage laws.
“District law requires businesses to pay a living wage and ensure that workers receive all the wages they rightfully earn,” said AG Racine. “The Office of the Attorney General is committed to fighting wage theft in all of its forms. We have demonstrated over and over that when employers fail to live up to their legal obligations, we do not hesitate to step in and vindicate workers’ rights.”
Matchbox Food Group, LLC, is based in Maryland and owns and operates a chain of restaurants under the Matchbox name, including three locations in the District. The company also previously operated Ted’s Bulletin restaurants in the District. There are Matchbox locations in the Capitol Hill, 14th St, and Penn Quarter neighborhoods, and Ted’s Bulletin locations in Capitol Hill and 14th St as well.
OAG launched an investigation of Matchbox after receiving complaints that workers were not being paid the District’s minimum wage. OAG’s investigation found evidence that from 2016 through 2018, Matchbox paid more than 100 bussers and runners less than the District’s minimum wage during some pay periods. Bussers are workers who clear, clean, and set tables, and keep dining rooms tidy and clean. Runners assist waitstaff and bring food and drinks to customers’ tables. (Note: The District’s current minimum wage is $14.00 per hour. Beginning on July 1, 2020, minimum wage will be $15.00 per hour.)
As part of the settlement, Matchbox is required to:
- Pay $142,551 in unpaid wages: Matchbox will pay restitution to over 100 workers who were allegedly paid less than the legally required minimum wage. The payments will be made in six monthly installments beginning on December 1, 2020. OAG will notify workers eligible for restitution, and Matchbox will make the payments directly to affected workers with OAG oversight.
- Pay $5,000 to the District: Matchbox will pay $5,000 to the District toward the city’s costs in pursuing the case.
- Implement measures to comply with the District’s minimum wage law: Matchbox is required to institute and maintain policies to ensure future payroll compliance with the District’s Minimum Wage Act. The company must confirm implementation of these policies to OAG within 60 days of executing the settlement.
The settlement agreement is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Matchbox-Settlement.pdf
Since gaining independent authority to investigate and bring wage theft cases in 2017, OAG has launched more than 30 investigations into wage theft and payroll fraud and has taken action against a home health care provider, KFC franchises, a cell phone retailer, a cafe chain, multiple construction companies, and other businesses that harmed District workers. AG Racine also testified before Congress to highlight findings from an OAG report about how worker misclassification hurts workers, undercuts law-abiding businesses, and cheats taxpayers. In January, OAG secured it’s largest wage theft settlement to date, requiring Power Design—a major electrical contractor—to pay $2.75 million to hundreds of harmed workers and the District over wage theft and worker misclassification claims.
How to Report Wage Theft Violations
Workers can report wage theft or other wage and hour violations to OAG’s Social Justice Section at (202) 442-9828. Learn more about workers’ rights in the District and how to get help if those rights are being violated: https://oag.dc.gov/workers-rights.
Matchbox image courtesy of Flickr user m01229 under Creative Commons license.