Code of the District of Columbia

§ 32–1012. Civil actions.

(a) A civil action may be commenced according to, and with all the remedies provided under, § 32-1308.

(b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, any employer who pays any employee less than the wage to which that employee is entitled under this subchapter shall be liable to that employee in the amount of the unpaid wages, statutory penalties, and an additional amount as liquidated damages equal to treble the amount of unpaid wages.

(2) The court may award an additional amount of liquidated damages less than treble the amount of unpaid wages, but not less than the amount of unpaid wages, only if the employer demonstrates to the satisfaction of the court that:

(A) The act or omission that gave rise to the action was in good faith;

(B) That the employer had reasonable grounds for the belief that the act or omission was not in violation of this subchapter; and

(C) That the employer promptly paid the full amount of wages claimed to be owed to the employee.

(c) A subcontractor, including any intermediate subcontractor, and the general contractor shall be jointly and severally liable to the subcontractor's employees for the subcontractor's violations of this chapter. Except as otherwise provided in a contract between the subcontractor and the general contractor, the subcontractor shall indemnify the general contractor for any wages, damages, interest, penalties, or attorneys' fees owed as a result of the subcontractor's violations of this chapter, unless those violations were due to the lack of prompt payment in accordance with the terms of the contract between the general contractor and the subcontractor.

(d) Any agreement between an employer and employee in which the employee agrees to work for less than the wages to which the employee is entitled under this subchapter or any regulation issued under this subchapter shall be no defense to any action to recover unpaid wages or liquidated damages.

(e) The Mayor is authorized to supervise the payment of unpaid wages and liquidated damages owed to any employee under this subchapter or any regulation issued under this subchapter, and the agreement of any employee to accept this payment, shall upon full payment, constitute a waiver by the employee of any right the employee may have under subsection (a) of this section to any unpaid wages, and an additional amount as liquidated damages.

(f)(1) When a temporary staffing firm employs an employee who performs work on behalf of or to the benefit of a client pursuant to a temporary staffing arrangement or contract for services, both the temporary staffing firm and the client shall be jointly and severally liable for violations of this chapter to the employee and to the District.

(2) The District, the employee, or the employee's representative shall notify the temporary staffing firm of the alleged violations at least 30 days before filing a claim for a violation against a client who was not the employee's direct employer.

(3) Except as otherwise provided in a contract between the temporary staffing firm and its client, the temporary staffing firm shall indemnify its client for any wages, damages, interest, penalties, or attorneys' fees owed as a result of the temporary staffing firm's violations of this chapter.


(Mar. 25, 1993, D.C. Law 9-248, § 13, 40 DCR 761; Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 2063, 60 DCR 12472; Feb. 26, 2015, D.C. Law 20-157, § 3(i), 61 DCR 10157; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-266, § 3(g), 64 DCR 2140.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 36-220.11.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 32-1011.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-61 substituted “wages and liquidated damages owed” for “wages owed” in (f).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-157 rewrote this section.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3(g) of Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Fairness Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-33, Mar. 28, 2017, 64 DCR 3089).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3(g) of Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Fairness Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-583, Dec. 21, 2016, 63 DCR 16031).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3(d) of Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-512, Oct. 27, 2016, 63 DCR 13577).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3(d) of Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-480, July 21, 2016, 63 DCR 10193).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2063 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2063 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b)(4) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-544, Dec. 29, 2014, 62 DCR 243, 20 STAT 4458).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 2(c) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-544, Dec. 29, 2014, 62 DCR 243, 20 STAT 4458).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of section, see § 3(d) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-188, Oct. 27, 2015, 62 DCR 14224).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-188, Oct. 27, 2015, 62 DCR 14224).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3(d) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-293, Jan. 27, 2016, 63 DCR 1215).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-293, Jan. 27, 2016, 63 DCR 1215).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3(d) of Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-170, Nov. 30, 2016, 63 DCR 12600).

For temporary (225 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Law 20-240, March 13, 2015, 62 DCR 1332).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3(d) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-57, Jan. 30, 2016, 62 DCR 15602).

For temporary (225 days) repeal of D.C. Law 20-157, § 7, see § 4 of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-57, Jan. 30, 2016, 62 DCR 15602).

Short Title

Section 2061 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle G of Title II of the act may be cited as the “Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-157: Section 7 of D.C. Law 20-157 provided that the act shall apply as of October 1, 2014, and that the act shall apply to violations occurring after October 1, 2014.