WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced today that his office has reached a settlement with Briggs Chaney Wireless, Inc., a company that operated two MetroPCS cell phone stores in the District, to resolve claims that the company failed to pay workers the District’s minimum wage for nearly a year. This settlement requires Briggs Chaney to pay over $15,000 in back wages and restitution to five former employees and make a $5,000 payment to the District.
“It is unacceptable for any employer to cheat workers out of hard-earned wages,” said Attorney General Racine. “We will take action to stand up for District workers when their rights are being violated.”
Briggs Chaney Wireless is a company that operated two MetroPCS stores selling cell phones and cellular service at locations in Petworth and on H Street NE. The business employed salespeople and cashiers in its stores from December 2016 through November 2017. The company has since sold its interest in the stores and no longer operates in the District.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) launched an investigation of Briggs Chaney Wireless after the District Department of Employment Services referred a complaint filed by a former employee. OAG’s investigation uncovered multiple alleged violations of the District’s Minimum Wage Revision Act. Specifically, five former sales representatives were allegedly paid less than the District’s minimum wage during their employment throughout 2017. (Note: The District’s minimum wage increases on an annual basis, and is currently $13.25 per hour, as of July 1, 2018.)
The settlement with the District of Columbia requires Briggs Chaney Wireless to:
- Pay former employees a total of $15,609.38 in back wages and restitution: Briggs Chaney Wireless is required to pay five former employees the back wages they are owed, as well as restitution. These retail employees, who were allegedly paid less than the District’s minimum wage, will receive payments ranging from $332.50 to $5,537.50.
- Pay $5,000 to the District: To resolve claims related to alleged minimum wage violations, Briggs Chaney Wireless will make a payment of $5,000 to the District.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available at: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2018-10/Briggs-Chaney-Wireless-Settlement-Agreement.pdf
What is Wage Theft?
Wage theft is the illegal practice of denying workers the wages or benefits they’ve earned. Unscrupulous employers steal from employees by withholding pay, paying less than the minimum wages, forcing workers to work extra hours without pay, refusing to pay overtime, or misclassifying 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 15 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, and other businesses that harmed District workers.
How to Report Wage Theft Violations
Workers who believe that they have experienced wage theft or other wage and hour violations can contact OAG’s Housing and Community Justice Section 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-rights