Program Description and Purpose

The Workplace Rights Grant Program Act of 2021 established the Workplace Rights Grant Pilot Program at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG). The purpose is to provide grants to community-based organizations, including legal service providers, to educate and assist District workers on employment laws and to inform OAG’s work related to employment laws. This program is implemented throughout the District.

 This grant program replaces the Workplace Leave Navigators grant program, which was administered by the Department of Employment Services (“DOES”).  OAG began providing grants under this program act in fiscal year 2022.

The goals of the Workplace Rights Grant Program are to:

  • Conduct outreach to provide worker education, legal services for individuals who work in the District related to employment laws, including workplace leave, minimum wage, unemployment, wage collection, and other District and federal laws
  • Engage the community with information about resources necessary to keep District workers informed about employment laws; and
  • Inform OAG’s work related to employment laws

Employment laws include workplace leave laws that provide for eligible individuals (i.e., individuals who work in the District) to take leave from their employment and protect the right to do so, and include the:

In addition:

Federal laws that relate to or provide similar rights as the laws identified in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of this paragraph including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, approved June 25, 1938 (52 Stat. 1060; 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.), and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, approved February 5, 1993 (107 Stat. 6; 29 U.S.C. § 2611 et seq.).

Fiscal year 2023 Grants

In Fiscal year 2023, starting October 1, 2022, through a competitive process two grants were awarded to two organizations, First Shift Justice Project, and DC Jobs with Justice (DC JWJ) based in the District under the Workplace Rights Grant Program.

First Shift Justice Project (FSJP): FSJP is a nonprofit organization that helps working parents in low wage jobs assert their workplace rights to prevent job loss. FSJP serves clients who work all over the Washington Metro Area, with a specific emphasis on outreach to D.C. residents in Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8.  First Shift Justice Project serves caregiving workers by using a preventive, client-centered approach to reach families, educate them about their rights, and enable them to exercise their rights without shame. By educating and supporting working parents to assert their rights before they lose their jobs or their workplace stress becomes untenable, First Shift helps them safely maintain their employment, their health and their family commitments. 

Through the “D.C. Workplace Leave Access and Enforcement Project” First Shift Justice Project seeks to prevent job loss, especially for working mothers in low wage jobs in Wards 4,5,7 and 8 with a specific focus on DC workers’ rights laws: D.C. Family Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA), Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act (UPLAA), and protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PPWFA). FSJP will provide individualized direct legal services, conduct community outreach, and give Know Your Rights presentations to aid the public’s awareness and the enforcement of the laws mentioned above. The organization’s Know Your Rights education presentations will be given in collaboration with other community organizations in D.C., such as Community of Hope, Mary’s Center, Briya Public Charter School, and Carlos Rosario International PCS’ Adult Education program. Its individual legal services are tailored to each client’s circumstances and goals and aims to provide clients the support they need to effectively exercise their rights.

DC Jobs with Justice (DC JWJ): DC JWJ is a dynamic coalition of labor organizations, community groups, faith-based organizations, and student groups dedicated to protecting the rights of working people, supporting community struggles, and promoting racial justice to build a more just society. It is committed to the creation of living wage jobs, support of economic and social justice here and abroad, and maintaining pressure to demand corporate accountability in communities, and creating a fair and just future for communities of color.

Through the “Just Pay DC Workers Rights Outreach Project” DC Jobs with Justice seeks to provide high quality multilingual worker outreach efforts by providing Know Your Rights education to  District workers in fields at highest risk of wage theft, specifically those who speak non-English primary languages (Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, French, and Vietnamese) building on the successful partnerships and strategies of the Just Pay Coalition and working as a subgrantee during FY 22, with our funding to Many Languages One Voice. DC JWJ will also provide workplace rights education workshops on topics such as employment laws, minimum wage laws, wage theft prevention, paid family leave and paid sick leave.

Fiscal year 2022 Grants

In 2022, through a competitive process two grants were awarded to two organizations based in the District under the Workplace Rights Grant Program.

First Shift Justice Project (FSJP): FSJP is a nonprofit organization that helps working parents in low wage jobs assert their workplace rights to prevent job loss. FSJP serves clients who work all over the Washington Metro Area, with a specific emphasis on outreach to D.C. residents in Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8.  First Shift Justice Project serves caregiving workers by using a preventive, client-centered approach to reach families, educate them about their rights, and enable them to exercise their rights without shame. By educating and supporting working parents to assert their rights before they lose their jobs or their workplace stress becomes untenable, First Shift helps them safely maintain their employment, their health and their family commitments. 

Through this grant project: “D.C. Workplace Leave Access and Enforcement Project,” First Shift provided working parents, especially mothers in low wage jobs with the tools that they need in order to exercise their workplace rights so that they can maintain employment and their families can experience the benefits of continuing economic stability. It provided individualized direct legal services, conducted community outreach, and gave Know Your Rights presentations to aid the public’s awareness and the enforcement of various DC employment laws.

Many Languages One Voice (MLOV): MLOV’S mission is to foster leadership and provide tools for greater civic participation of immigrants in DC who do not speak English as their primary language in solutions that impact their lives.

MLOV partnered with DC Jobs with Justice (DCJW) and the DC Chapter of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-DC) to implement the Ensuring Multilingual Access to Workplace Rights program. Through this partnership, MLOV provided high-quality multilingual outreach and education opportunities to low-to-modern income District workers who speak non-English primary languages (specifically, Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, French, and Vietnamese) around workplace rights.

Fiscal Year 2022 Workplace Rights Grant Program Achievements

First Shift Justice Project: “D.C. Workplace Leave Access and Enforcement Project”

Throughout this grant period, First Shift Justice Project served 56 clients by providing access to legal services. Most of the DC residents served were in wards one, five and seven. 30 opened client matters were closed, seven clients maintained their jobs or were reinstated, seven received accommodations or leave that totaled 43.5 additional weeks of paid leave; three received Paid Family Leave benefits; and a total of $17,750 was received in monetary damages.

First Shift’s online outreach included a total of 4,639 website visits with 3,580 unique visits and an audience reach rate of approximately 147,227. There were also181,685 impressions across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. First Shift trained 40 medical and healthcare staff at Unity Health Care, Mary’s Center, Whitman-Walker Health, and Mamatoto Village.

Many Languages One Voice (MLOV) in partnership with DC Jobs with Justice (DC JWJ) and Restaurant Opportunities Center DC (ROC-DC): “Ensuring Multilingual Access to Workplace Rights program”

Through the FY22 implementation year, one major accomplishment from the grant was the recruitment and training of twenty-one part-time canvassers who were able to speak Spanish, French, Chinese, and Amharic, to match the needs of project’s target populations. Through the efforts of the multilingual canvassing team, 400 worker contacts were collected leading to 70 follow-ups requiring access to legal resources and/or services. The team disseminated 1,675 flyers through their community outreach efforts, including at workshops, worksites, and targeted events. Over 10,000 workers were reached through this project.