The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) works every day to stand up for District workers, including by fighting wage theft, protecting workers’ rights and making sure they get the wages and fair treatment they deserve, and holding employers accountable if they mistreat workers or do not follow workers’ rights laws.
Wage theft affects millions of workers nationally. It occurs across job types and income levels, though workers in low-wage jobs and immigrants are especially vulnerable to this type of exploitation. Far too often, OAG has seen employers cheat District workers out of hard-earned wages and break the law to gain an unfair edge over competitors. Denying wages or benefits workers have earned, failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, and misclassifying employees as independent contractors are all forms of illegal wage theft. OAG has made it a priority to stand up for vulnerable workers who may not know their rights and hold employers accountable when they take advantage of hardworking members of our community in DC.
Since gaining wage theft enforcement authority in 2017, OAG has launched more than 75 investigations and recovered over $7 million for workers and the District by bringing investigations and lawsuits against employers who violate the law. In 2021, OAG established the Workers’ Rights & Antifraud Section, dedicated to advancing workers’ rights in DC long-term, with a focus on industries with high populations of vulnerable workers, such as construction, restaurants and retail, health care, and the gig economy.
During AG Racine’s tenure, OAG has also led nationally on wage theft enforcement efforts. OAG has spearheaded innovative lawsuits to protect District workers and frequently collaborates with other state attorneys general to advocate for workers’ rights across the nation.
OAG has established a track record of protecting District workers and is dedicated to continue growing and expanding its enforcement work. Listed below are the legal wins OAG has secured to protect District workers from wage theft, as well as ongoing OAG efforts to fight for District workers:
- Arise Virtual Solutions and Comcast: In January 2022, OAG sued Arise Virtual Solutions and Comcast for misclassifying customer service agents as independent contractors and failing to pay minimum wage, overtime, and paid sick leave. Arise employs a gig workforce of customer service agents, who the company uses to help clients like Comcast outsource their customer service needs. The lawsuit is ongoing.
- DoorDash: OAG sued DoorDash, a food delivery company, in November 2019 for pocketing consumer tips that were intended for delivery workers. In November 2020, DoorDash settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay $2.25 million in restitution to workers and in penalties to the District.
- Congressional Testimony: In September 2019, Attorney General Racine testified before Congress in support of a bill that would strengthen federal protections against worker misclassification across numerous industries, including the gig economy. AG Racine shared insights from OAG’s enforcement experience and testified alongside leading workers’ rights attorneys and gig worker representatives.
- Dynamic Contracting: In October 2021, OAG sued Dynamic, a drywall contractor, for misclassifying hundreds of workers on construction projects throughout the District. In April 2022, Dynamic settled with OAG and agreed to pay $1,075,070 in restitution to workers and in penalties to the District.
- Capitol Drywall: In October 2020, Capitol Drywall, a drywall contractor, settled with OAG to resolve an investigation over repeated misclassification at the company’s constructions projects in the District. The settlement required Capitol to pay a $200,000 penalty and implement improved compliance measures.
- Power Design: In 2018, OAG sued Power Design, a national electrical contractor, for misclassifying more than 500 electrical workers as independent contractors to cut labor costs and cheating workers of wages and benefits. In January 2020, Power Design settled OAG’s lawsuit, agreed to shape up its practices, and pay $2.75 million to workers, the District, and to support apprenticeships, job training, or workforce development programs. This is OAG’s largest wage theft recovery to date. In May 2022, OAG sued Power Design again for continued wage theft and failing to comply with the terms of that settlement.
- Airway Sheet Metal: OAG launched an investigation into Airway Sheet Metal, a sheet metal contractor, in 2018 for failing to pay proper overtime and provide paid sick leave to employees. In 2019, Airway agreed to pay $115,548.20 in unpaid wages to 40 workers and penalties to the District as part of a settlement with OAG.
- Rock Spring Contracting: OAG investigated Rock Spring, a drywall contractor, for misclassifying about 75 drywall workers as independent contractors, and failing to pay overtime and paid sick leave. In December 2019, Rock Spring settled with OAG and agreed to pay $281,851 in restitution to workers and penalties to the District.
- Matchbox Restaurants: In July 2020, Matchbox agreed to pay more than $147,000 in unpaid wages to over 100 workers and in penalties to DC in a settlement resolving OAG’s investigation of the company. OAG investigated complaints about Matchbox’s failure to pay minimum wage to numerous employees, including bussers and runners, from 2016 through 2018.
- Turning Natural: OAG sued the local café chain in July 2019 for failing to pay overtime and minimum wage, and failing to provide paid sick time. In August 2019, Turning Natural settled with OAG, agreed to return $10,000 in unpaid wages to 22 employees, provide retroactive paid sick leave to affected employees, and pay $5,000 in civil penalties to the District.
- MetroPCS franchises: In October 2018, OAG reached a settlement with Briggs Chaney Wireless, Inc., which operated two MetroPCS cell phone stores in the District, to resolve claims that the company failed to pay workers the District’s minimum wage for nearly a year. As a result, the company paid over $20,000 in back wages and restitution to five former employees and penalties to the District.
- KFC franchises: OAG reached a settlement in May 2018 with Mitra QSR KNE, LLC, which owns and operates two KFC fast-food franchises in the District, over failure to pay its employees in accordance with the District’s minimum wage laws. The settlement provided $20,129.44 in back wages and restitution to 18 employees and penalties to the District.
- Azure Healthcare Services: In February 2022, OAG sued Azure Healthcare Services, which operated numerous assisted-living residences in the District. OAG’s lawsuit alleges that Azure failed to pay dozens of employees back wages due, overtime pay, and hazard pay related to working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit is ongoing.
- JD Nursing and Management Services: OAG filed suit in 2017 against now-shuttered J.D. Nursing and its former CEO, James N. Ibe, for stealing months’ worth of wages from more than 20 personal care aides between September 2015 and January 2016. The aides worked for an average of over 150 hours each and were never paid for their labor. In December 2019, OAG won a judgment against the company of $216,906 in restitution and damages to workers and penalties for the District.
Resources for workers
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.
Learn More about Workers Rights and Wage Theft:
Workers can learn about their rights under District law and how they can get help if their rights are being violated here. Learn more about wage theft by reading AG Racine’s testimony before Congress on wage theft or an OAG report about how worker misclassification hurts workers, undercuts law-abiding businesses, and cheats taxpayers.