Celebrating Labor Day & the Workers Who Keep DC Running
Hello District Neighbors,
Labor Day was created in the late 19th century—at a time when workers were often taken advantage of, not paid enough, and overworked. Many of them faced unsafe working conditions.
Fortunately, in the past century, we have made many improvements to our laws to protect workers—and the District has some of the strongest workers’ rights laws in the country. Unfortunately, the mistreatment of workers is still all too prevalent.
Today, my office released our 2022 Labor Day Report, which details how OAG protects the rights of District workers. My office enforces the District’s workers’ rights laws, and we fight for workers who’ve been denied their hard-earned wages.
I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to hold employers accountable and send a clear message that employers who cheat their workers won’t be tolerated in the District.
Since 2017, we have launched more than 75 workers’ rights investigations and recovered over $7 million for workers and the District by bringing investigations and lawsuits against employers who violate the law. We have also recently launched a small-claims mediation program, which tries to settle smaller employment disputes outside of court with the goal of expediting recovery and resolution for workers.
Last year my office established a standalone Workers’ Rights and Antifraud Section—a team of attorneys and investigators who are dedicated to fighting wage theft—which is critical to ensuring these victories for District workers.
To all the hardworking men and women in the District and across the country who help keep our communities running, thank you.
WIN: Recovering $650K in Restitution for 550+ DC Workers
Today, my office announced wins in two separate workers’ rights enforcement actions where we recovered over $725,000, including more than $650,000 in restitution for over 550 DC workers. These wins resolve a lawsuit against Executive Security Services, LLC and an investigation into CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield for failing to pay their workers their full hard-earned wages on time.
Our laws are straightforward – all District employees are entitled to a minimum wage of at least $16.10 per hour, overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week, and timely compensation when they leave their jobs. The resolutions of these cases should make clear that any company attempting to skirt our wage and hour protections and take advantage of hard-working District residents will be met with the full enforcement capabilities of my office.
Expanding ATTEND to Help Support Students at Some of DC’s Most At-Risk Schools
This week, DC kids started a new school year. At my office, we’re doing everything we can to provide children a better chance at success by supporting them to attend school. We’re committed to helping reduce truancy rates in DC and ensuring that every child gets the education that they need and deserve.
That’s why this week we expanded our ATTEND program to help keep kids in school. We are adding two more schools in Ward 8: Simon Elementary School and John Hayden Johnson Middle School. ATTEND is a diversion program we created to better serve families with young children who are not attending school regularly. The program has successfully fostered an environment that supports students, parents, and schools, and I’m incredibly excited to see the program expanding to two schools that most need this help.
Holding Instacart Accountable for Misleading DC Consumers
We recently announced that Instacart, an online food delivery company, will pay $2.54 million —and ensure tips go directly to workers—to resolve a 2020 lawsuit over misrepresentations about worker tips and failure to pay sales taxes.
DC consumers expect their tips to go to workers, not the C-suite. Any business operating in the District must give consumers truthful information, pay workers the wages and tips they have earned, and pay the sales taxes that they owe. And any company that tries to dodge its obligations to workers and consumers will be held accountable.
Holding High Earning Tax Cheats Accountable
Yesterday, my office announced a tax fraud lawsuit against billionaire technology executive Michael J. Saylor alleging that he illegally avoided more than $25 million in DC taxes by pretending to be a resident of other jurisdictions with lower personal income taxes while actually residing in DC.
Tax evasion deprives our whole community of critical funds that go towards public safety programs, infrastructure, and other resources that support DC’s city-wide operations. With our new anti-fraud enforcement authority, we’re putting high-earning tax cheats on notice: if you enjoy all the benefits of living in our great city while refusing to pay your fair share in taxes, we will hold you accountable.
New Federal Rule Goes into Effect Regulating Ghost Guns Like Other Firearms
Ghost guns are unlicensed and untraceable. They must be regulated just like other guns. Last week, the Biden administration’s new policy regulating these weapons took effect—a major step toward improving public safety and helping curb the proliferation of these weapons.
These efforts build on my office’s ongoing work to crack down on ghost guns in the District, including by leading coalitions of state Attorneys General in defending this federal rule. We also recently secured a $4 million judgement against leading ghost gun manufacturer Polymer80. Because of our action, Polymer80 is now permanently banned from selling these weapons to District residents.
We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to stop the flow of ghost guns into our city and help keep our communities safe.
Cancelling Student Loan Debt for Millions of Borrowers
Last week, President Biden announced that he is cancelling student loan debt for millions of struggling borrowers—especially borrowers of color, who are disproportionately affected by student loan debt. This will make a huge impact on DC residents, who have some of the highest student loan debt in the country. The median student loan amount in DC is 44% higher than for the median American borrower overall.
I’m proud to have fought for borrowers and will continue to make sure their voices are heard. We called on the Education Department to cancel student debt for for-profit colleges like ITT, and it did. We took former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to court several times and won.
On September 8 at 6:30pm, my office—along with the Student Borrower Protection Center and Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking—will be holding a student loan repayment webinar on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, resources for DC residents, and the end of the payment pause. Click here to register.
Standing Up for Voting Rights
Last month, I—along with New York Attorney General Letitia James—co-led a group of 17 attorneys general opposing Florida’s discriminatory law that would make it more difficult for millions of Floridians—especially the elderly, disabled, and communities of color—to vote. Voting by mail or drop box is safe and secure, and we will continue to fight any and all attempts to interfere with the democratic process and disenfranchise communities of color.
Separately, I led a coalition of 15 Attorneys General in a friend-of-the-court brief opposing North Carolina's discriminatory law, which makes it harder for returning citizens to vote. The law deprives people with felony convictions of their right to vote well beyond the date of their release from incarceration. Research shows that restoring a person’s right to vote upon release from incarceration cultivates civic participation and lessens the chance of them reoffending, which improves public safety for all of us and helps these individuals rejoin and contribute to their communities.
I will continue to fight to support access to voting in DC and across the country.
Sign up to Receive a Report From our Office
I know many of you are loyal readers of this newsletter—because, among other reasons, you made it this far down! If you’re interested in learning more about our office and our work, I invite you to sign up to receive the physical copy of our office’s report this fall. It will provide information on where you can report everything from consumer protection violations to acts of discrimination. It will also show how far the office has come in the last seven years and will include a special message from me as I reflect on my time as Attorney General.