Fighting for DC Workers’ Rights

With your support, we are challenging barriers to justice and making life more equitable for all. We are challenging our legal system to give every neighbor access to justice, regardless of their ability to afford it.

Our fight feels especially powerful this February as we celebrate Black History Month. Though nationally recognized just one month each year, Black history is American history. Honoring and recognizing the Black experience in America is crucial as we continue to advocate for access to justice for all.

Ensuring that every District resident – especially members of all minority and marginalized populations – can obtain the legal resources they need is a necessary endeavor we take on together. It is why I know you’ll be as moved by Jay’s* story as I am:

A DC sub-contractor on a federally-funded construction project hired Jay, a machine operator.

Jay regularly worked more than 40 hours a week, but never received overtime pay. He noticed other workers – doing the same job for other sub-contractors – earning far higher wages and receiving time-and-a-half overtime pay. Jay was instructed to report inflated hourly wages, should an “investigator” inquire at the work site.

Jay came to a walk-in Workers’ Rights Clinic run by our grantee Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, seeking help. But he was fired soon after – and reported that his coworkers were now afraid to access the Clinic. His employers had violated federal and DC laws, including the Davis Bacon Act of 1931, which requires employers on federally-funded public works contracts to pay workers the “prevailing wage.”

On behalf of Jay and 50 other workers, Washington Lawyers’ Committee sued in DC Superior Court, and ultimately the class-action case was settled for unpaid wages totaling approximately $650,000.

Without the Workers’ Rights Clinic, Jay and dozens of others would have never received the money they rightfully earned.

Wrongs reported by an individual worker often uncover widespread exploitation. It is all the more reason why every legal aid case for every resident of our community makes a big difference. Every action you take to support our work has a ripple effect for our most vulnerable neighbors. Thank you.

Together for justice,

Kirra L. Jarratt
CEO, DC Bar Foundation

*Jay is a pseudonym used to protect this client’s privacy.

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