WASHINGTON, D. C. – Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced that he filed a lawsuit against J.D. Nursing & Management Services, a home health care service provider, and its CEO, James N. Ibe, for failing to pay twenty-seven employees the wages they earned. This lawsuit is part of Attorney General Racine’s push to step up enforcement of wage and hour laws, hold employers accountable, and ensure that workers are paid all the wages they are owed.
“Workers must be paid all of the wages they earn,” said Attorney General Racine. “There is no excuse for cheating people out of their hard-earned dollars, and employers must live up to their obligations to pay employees for the work they have performed. My office is committed to protecting workers from wage theft and other abuses, and we want to send a message to employers that they will be held accountable if they violate District laws.”
In this case, the District alleges that J.D. Nursing failed to pay home health care aides for several months of work in the fall of 2015. J.D. Nursing had received Medicaid funding from the District to administer health care services, but that funding was suspended by the District due to credible allegations of fraud against the company. Despite funding being suspended, the company continued to employ twenty-seven home health care aides, who worked for an average of over 150 hours each, and who were never paid for their work.
The District is seeking to recover unpaid wages and damages for these workers, as well as statutory penalties. The wages the District seeks to recover total $64,446.00, and the damages total $193,338.00—or three times the amount of the unpaid wages, which is the maximum allowed under District law.
A copy of the Attorney General’s lawsuit is available here.
What Is Wage Theft?
Wage theft is the illegal practice of denying workers the wages or benefits they’ve earned. It affects millions of workers nationally. Unscrupulous employers refuse to pay workers, pay less than the minimum wages, force workers to work extra hours without pay, refuse to pay overtime, or misclassify employees as contractors. Wage theft happens across job types and income levels, but workers in low-wage jobs and immigrants are especially vulnerable to this type of exploitation.
New OAG Enforcement Authority & Staff to Combat Wage Theft
While OAG previously brought wage enforcement actions in cases initiated and investigated by the District’s Department of Employment Services (DOES), legislative changes provide the Attorney General with independent enforcement authority. Now, OAG can initiate cases, subpoena employers, and compel them to turn over payroll records and other documentation of their compliance with the District’s wage laws. The changes have also streamlined the process by which OAG can enforce DOES orders.
OAG has hired two new full-time attorneys dedicated to fighting wage theft, as well as assigning current staff to work on these important cases.
Enhanced Penalties for Employers Who Violate the Law
Recent legislative changes enhanced penalties for employers who violate the District’s wage and hour laws. OAG can now seek monetary damages of three times the amount of unpaid wages for workers in addition to seeking to recover the unpaid wages themselves. OAG also has the power to seek additional statutory penalties and bring criminal charges against employers who violate the law.
Resources for Workers
Workers can access OAG resources in both English and Spanish, including comprehensive information about the District’s wage and hour laws and information about where workers can get help if their rights are being violated. OAG is also providing free wage and hour log books, where workers can keep track of their wages and hours and help ensure they actually receive the pay they earn. Workers can print the log book here.
Workers who have experienced wage theft or other wage violations can contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Housing and Community Justice Section by phone at (202) 442-9854.