WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced a lawsuit against Executive Security Services LLC (ESS) and its founder, Justin Allen, for failing to pay workers minimum wage, overtime, and sick leave required by District law. In the complaint, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that, over the course of multiple years, the company did not pay workers for all the hours they worked, paid employees irregularly, provided payment using checks that bounced when cashed, and did not provide paid sick leave, including pandemic-related sick leave. OAG’s investigation revealed that as a result of ESS’s practices, workers were denied more than $50,000 in total wages. Through the lawsuit, OAG is seeking restitution in the form of lost wages and accrued sick leave for affected workers, penalties, and the costs of bringing this suit.
“District law requires employers to provide employees paid sick leave and pay them $15 for each hour they work and overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week,” said AG Racine. “Most employers comply with District law and treat their workers fairly. When an employer like Executive Security Services fails to compensate their workers consistent with law, the Office of the Attorney General will hold them accountable and ensure that District workers receive their hard-earned wages.”
Headquartered in Maryland, ESS provides security services for retail stores and building or property management companies in the District and elsewhere. The company employs at least 100 security personnel and provides unarmed and armed security guards, background investigations, and other related services for stores and companies. The company was founded by Mr. Allen, who has authority over its employment practices.
The District’s Minimum Wage Revision Act (MWA) creates a baseline wage of $15 per hour. If an employee works more than 40 hours per week, the MWA requires the employer to pay them an overtime rate of 1.5 times their regular rate. The District’s Sick and Safe Leave Act (SSLA) requires employers with more than 100 employees to provide up to 7 paid sick leave days per year, which is accumulated at a rate of one hour of paid leave for every 37 hours worked. The District also created pandemic-related sick leave in the COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act (CSEA). From April 10, 2020 to at least April 1, 2021, the CSEA requires most employers to provide up to two weeks of paid leave for COVID-19 related reasons.
In the complaint, OAG alleges that ESS violated MWA and the SSLA by:
- Failing to pay employees the operative minimum wage: From at least as early as January 2018 through January 2020, multiple ESS employees did not receive minimum or overtime wages. Employees were informed that they would receive the minimum wage, or higher, but never received proper payment. Multiple employees were not paid for the accurate number of hours worked. And other employees were paid irregularly or did not receive payment on their assigned payday. On several occasions, employees were given checks that ended up bouncing when they were cashed.
- Failing to provide employees with paid sick leave: Throughout their entire time of employment, multiple workers never received any hours of paid sick leave, including during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the CSEA’s requirements.
In this lawsuit, OAG is seeking back wages, injunctive relief to stop ESS’s illegal employment practices, penalties, and litigation costs.
A copy of the complaint is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Executive-Security-Services-Complaint-03.16.2021.pdf
Since gaining independent authority to investigate and bring wage theft cases in 2017, OAG has launched more than 40 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 2020, 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.