In a big win for District workers, our office announced that Power Design—a major electrical contractor—will pay $2.75 million to resolve a wage theft and worker misclassification case. The settlement will return nearly $880,000 to workers, provide $50,000 to support workforce development programs, and require a $1.8 million payment to the District. This settlement is our office’s largest wage theft recovery to date, both in value and the number of affected workers it will help.
In our 2018 lawsuit, we alleged Power Design misclassified over 500 electrical workers as independent contractors instead of employees to cut costs and avoid legal responsibilities, like overtime, paid sick leave, and taxes. This form of payroll fraud is especially common in the construction industry and allows companies to gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors.
This is the latest effort in OAG’s fight to protect District workers. In 2017, OAG worked with the D.C. Council to obtain independent authority to investigate and bring wage theft cases. Since then, we have launched over 30 investigations and recovered millions of dollars from businesses that have stolen wages from D.C. workers. We also recently testified before Congress about our new economic report on how misclassification hurts workers, undercuts law-abiding businesses, and cheats taxpayers.
If you believe your rights have been violated by your employer, report it to OAG at (202) 727-3400 or submit a complaint to the District’s Department of Employment Services. Workers can also learn more about their rights under District law by accessing our resources.
Karl A. Racine
Keeping Food on the Table
The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—commonly known as “food stamps”—is a critical safety net program that uses food assistance to help lift people out of poverty. Last week, AG Racine led a group of 15 AGs in multistate lawsuit to stop the Trump administration from eliminating SNAP food assistance for nearly 700,000 struggling Americans nationwide, including 13,000 District residents. This unlawful rule will force Americans searching for jobs to go hungry, drive up healthcare costs, and needlessly hamper our economy. Read more.
Child Sex Trafficking: Learn the Signs. Stop the Crime.
Sex traffickers don’t have a type. They target individuals regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. Sex trafficking occurs when a child is forced to engage in a commercial sex act. As part of OAG’s year-round efforts to build awareness about sex trafficking, during Human Trafficking Awareness Month (January), OAG is running public service announcements in D.C. metro buses to alert the public that anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking. The PSAs direct people to a national hotline and local resources to get help for themselves or someone they know. OAG is also stepping up this year to co-chair the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force—a group of local stakeholders collectively working to increase the prosecution of human trafficking cases, while identifying and serving the victims of this horrific crime. Learn warning signs of sex trafficking and how you can help survivors.
Fighting Waste and Abuse
Nonprofits are unique corporate entities that function as public trusts, legally required to ensure that their funds are used for their stated public purpose—not for enriching private interests. That’s why this week AG Racine sued the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee and two Trump entities for abusing nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family. The lawsuit alleges the Committee staff collaborated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event spaces at the Trump Hotel for alleged official Inaugural events. OAG is seeking to recover the amount improperly paid to the Trump Hotel and to direct those funds to suitable nonprofit purposes. This is AG Racine’s latest effort to ensure that nonprofits operating in DC follow the law. OAG has invested resources and hired more attorneys to expand its nonprofit enforcement capacity. Several additional investigations remain open.
February 21: OAG's Teen-Led Summit on Dating Violence
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one in 10 high school students nationally report being a victim of physical or sexual violence from a romantic partner each year. To support youth and healthy relationships, OAG provides training to young people across the District on how to recognize different types of abuse and how kids can get help if they need it. Now, student ambassadors from these trainings will lead a summit for teenagers to help them identify healthy relationships and eliminate unhealthy behaviors through interactive panels and discussion. This unique event will take place on Friday, February 21, from noon to 5:00 p.m. and will include a free lunch, giveaways, and a chance to earn school community service credits. Students can register for this FREE event or learn more information by contacting OAGCommunity@dc.gov.
Protecting Haitian-born Residents at Risk of Deportation
Recently, AG Racine led a 21-state coalition challenging the Trump administration’s effort to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals. Without this protected status, hundreds of Haitian-born residents who legally live and work in the District, and thousands more across the country, will lose their work permits and will be at risk of deportation. This cruel and unlawful effort is transparently motivated by little else than a desire to restrict immigration from countries of color. AG Racine is committed to protect longtime, Haitian-born District residents who make valuable contributions to our communities.
Register by March 13: Youth Essay Contest on Stopping Violence
Great news: Over 100 DC middle school students have already accepted the 2020 “Do the Write Thing Challenge,” a national essay contest that allows students to examine how violence affects them and propose solutions on how to stop it. This is OAG’s fourth year sponsoring the contest in the District, and essays are now being accepted through March 13, 2020. All essayists—along with their school principals, teachers, and family—will be invited to a recognition celebration in April 2020. Learn more about Do the Write Thing Challenge and register and submit an essay.
Honoring Chief Deputy Ludaway for Exceptional Leadership at OAG and with State Attorneys General
Congratulations to OAG’s Chief Deputy Attorney General Natalie O. Ludaway on being named Senior Staff Member of the Year by the bipartisan National Attorneys General Association (NAAG). This prestigious award honors those who have provided exceptional service to NAAG through exemplary leadership, expertise and achievement. Among Natalie’s many achievements, she has overseen OAG’s talent recruitment strategy, pushing the office to seek a wider and more diverse talent pool. If you would like to join OAG and work to improve the lives of District residents, browse our open job vacancies.