OAG Recovers $1.5 Million from Assisted Living Company that Failed to Pay Frontline Workers' Wages

Azure Required Employees to Work 24-Hour Two-Week Shifts Without Overtime Pay

WASHINGTON, D.C. – D.C. Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today announced that Azure Health Services, LLC (Azure), which operated assisted-living facilities across the District, will pay $1,510,000 to resolve allegations that it failed to pay frontline health care workers the wages they earned during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Azure employees risked their lives to care for our city’s most vulnerable residents during a global health crisis. Despite profiting by requiring its employees to work 24-hour shifts, Azure failed to pay the wages its hardworking employees had rightfully earned and were legally owed,” said AG Schwalb. “Thanks to the tireless work of OAG lawyers and investigators, that money is now going back into the workers’ pockets where it belongs. We will not hesitate to hold accountable any employer who cheats its workers out of the wages and pay they have earned.”

Azure and its co-owners - Beth Henson and Cynthia Warren - operated six assisted-living facilities in the District for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Before the owners sold the company, Azure had around 50 employees who served in caregiving, counseling, and support roles.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) opened an investigation in late 2021 after receiving complaints from frontline health care workers that, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Azure was requiring them to work 24-hour shifts for fourteen consecutive days while only paying workers for eighteen hours a day—shorting its employees six hours of overtime pay each day. OAG sued the company in December 2021 after its investigation confirmed the workers’ claims.

The District’s minimum wage law, the Minimum Wage Revision Act (MWRA), requires employers who choose to do business in the District to guarantee fair payment to all workers. The MWRA requires employers to pay employees a minimum wage that is presently $16.10/hour and overtime rates of 1.5 times their hourly wage when they work over 40 hours in any given week.

As a result of OAG’s investigation and civil action, Azure will pay a total of $1,510,000, distributed as follows:

  • $1,310,000 will be paid to adversely impacted workers.
  • $200,000 will be paid to the District in penalties for violations of the MWRA.

A copy of the settlement agreement is available here.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Palmer Heenan, Nicole Tortoriello, and Mickey Haywood; Investigators Ashley Norman, Amélie Clémot, and Jonathan Thervil; and Section Chief Graham Lake. 

D.C. Wage & Hour Laws
The District’s Minimum Wage Revision Act (MWRA) establishes a minimum wage, which is currently $16.10 per hour. If an employee works more than 40 hours per week, the MWRA requires the employer to pay them an overtime rate of 1.5 times their regular rate. 

OAG’s Efforts to Protect Workers    
OAG’s Workers’ Rights & Antifraud Section is dedicated to fighting wage theft and protecting District workers. Since gaining wage theft enforcement authority in 2017, OAG has recovered over $11 million for workers and the District 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, including construction, restaurants and hospitality, healthcare, and the gig economy.

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 workers@dc.gov or trabajadores@dc.gov.