WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Schwalb today announced that 20/20 Vision, a District-based economic policy research and advocacy firm, will pay over $168,000 in restitution to 21 current and former employees and in penalties to the District as part of a wage theft settlement with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
The settlement resolves an OAG investigation into allegations that 20/20 Vision and its principal, Dana Chasin, violated the District’s wage and hour laws by misclassifying its entire workforce as independent contractors instead of employees—illegally depriving them of overtime wages, sick leave, and other employment protections and benefits that are afforded to employees but are not afforded to contractors. In addition to paying restitution and damages to harmed workers and penalties to the District, 20/20 Vision will be required to reclassify its entire workforce as employees, keep proper records, and make compliance reports to OAG for five years.
“Misclassification cheats workers out of wages and benefits they are legally entitled to, deprives the District of tax revenue and insurance premiums it is entitled to, and gives unscrupulous businesses an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors. Shamefully, this unlawful practice harms hardworking people across industries and income levels including, as evidenced by this case, professional firms,” said AG Schwalb. “With this settlement, we are making 20/20 Vision’s workers whole and sending a strong message that worker misclassification and wage theft in any industry – blue collar, white collar, or no collar – will not be tolerated in the District of Columbia.”
“Unfortunately, wage theft is pervasive throughout every sector of the economy, including political organizations that disguise themselves as progressive,” said Zachary Tashman, a former economic policy analyst at 20/20 Vision. “My colleagues and I tried to fix this issue internally on multiple occasions, appealing directly to management, but our entreaties were ignored. The vast majority of us quickly realized nothing would change and went on to find other career opportunities, but we knew that the cycle of worker exploitation would simply repeat itself after we departed unless the government intervened. I want to thank the Office of the Attorney General for putting in the time and energy to rectify these labor violations; they have been a steadfast ally in protecting the rights of workers across the District of Columbia.”
20/20 Vision is an economic policy advocacy and research firm that works with “legislators, academics, public interest groups, and progressive organizations” according to its marketing materials. The company has a staff of economic and fiscal policy analysts and assistants. It also maintains a blog, where it focuses primarily on macroeconomic issues, but it has also posted about labor issues, including a post highlighting the widespread problem of worker misclassification and advocating for federal legislation to codify protections for workers.
OAG opened an investigation into 20/20 Vision related to alleged violations of the District’s wage and hour laws. OAG’s investigation revealed that 20/20 Vision’s entire staff was misclassified as independent contractors instead of being classified as employees. The firm’s workers were also not informed that they would be classified as independent contractors, not employees, until beginning work. They worked overtime without receiving adequate compensation, and they did not accrue any sick or annual leave.
To resolve OAG’s wage theft investigation and allegations that the firm violated the District’s Wage Payment & Collection Law, Minimum Wage Revision Act, and Sick & Safe Leave Act, 20/20 Vision will be required to:
- Pay $118,407.87 to workers: This amounts to an average payout of $5,638.47 to each eligible worker for unpaid overtime and sick leave and double liquidated damages. This means that workers will receive three times the amount they would have been entitled to if 20/20 Vision had complied with the law.
- Pay $50,000 in penalties to the District.
- Reclassify its entire staff: 20/20 Vision will reclassify all of its workers as W-2 employees and will ensure that it properly classifies employees as such under the District’s wage and hour laws moving forward.
- Take compliance measures: 20/20 Vision will create overtime and paid sick leave accrual policies compliant with District law and will distribute those policies to all current and future employees. 20/20 Vision will also submit a report to OAG each year through 2027 certifying compliance with the settlement agreement and District law and provide a copy of its payroll for the year.
- Maintain proper records: 20/20 Vision will maintain proper records for each employee, including their name, address, position title, classification, rate of pay, amount paid, hours worked per day and week, and any other information required by District law.
The full settlement agreement is available here.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Deepa Goraya, Assistant Section Chief Randy Chen, and Section Chief Graham Lake.
What Is Worker Misclassification?
Misclassification is a form of wage theft that reduces costs for companies at the expense of employees as well as the public. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors deprives them of rights that employees are entitled to, such as rights to minimum wage, overtime compensation, and paid sick leave. Illegal misclassification also deprives the District of tax revenue, unemployment insurance premiums, and workers’ compensation contributions. Moreover, misclassification can give companies an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors; a study commissioned by OAG, for instance, found that District construction companies that misclassify workers unlawfully avoid at least 16.7% in labor costs as compared to companies that follow the law.
OAG’s Efforts to Protect Workers
OAG’s Workers’ Rights & Antifraud Section is dedicated to fighting wage theft and protecting District workers. Since January 2023, OAG has secured more than $6 million for workers and the District. In total, since gaining wage theft enforcement authority, OAG has secured over $21 million by bringing investigations and lawsuits against employers who violate District law. OAG’s wage theft enforcement efforts have focused on industries with high populations of vulnerable workers, such as construction, restaurants and hospitality, healthcare, and the gig economy. OAG also released a report about how worker misclassification hurts workers, undercuts law-abiding businesses, and cheats taxpayers. Click here to view a more comprehensive list of OAG’s legal victories standing up for workers’ rights.
How to Report Wage and Hour 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 calling (202) 442-9828 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.