Code of the District of Columbia

§ 32–1308. Civil actions.

(a)(1)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, a person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter, the Minimum Wage Revision Act, the Sick and Safe Leave Act, or the Living Wage Act may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against the employer or other person violating this chapter, the Minimum Wage Revision Act, the Sick and Safe Leave Act, or the Living Wage Act and, upon prevailing, shall be awarded reasonable attorneys' fees and costs and entitled to relief including:

(i) The payment of any back wages unlawfully withheld;

(ii) Liquidated damages equal to treble the amount of unpaid wages;

(iii) Statutory penalties; and

(iv) Such legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate, including reinstatement of employment, and other injunctive relief.

(B) No person in any action brought pursuant to this section shall be awarded any amount already recovered by an employee.

(C) Actions may be maintained by one or more employees, who may designate an agent or representative to maintain the action for themselves, or on behalf of all employees similarly situated as follows:

(i) Individually by an aggrieved person;

(ii) Jointly by one or more aggrieved persons;

(iii) Consistent with the collective action procedures of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b);

(iv) As a class action;

(v) Initially as a collective action pursuant to the procedures of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and subsequently as a class action;

(vi) By a labor organization or association of employees whose member is aggrieved by a violation of this chapter, the Minimum Wage Revision Act, the Sick and Safe Leave Act, or the Living Wage Act; or

(vii) By the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, pursuant to § 32-1306.

(2) For the purposes of this subsection, 2 or more employees are similarly situated if they:

(A) Are or were employed by the same employer or employers, whether concurrently or otherwise, at some point during the applicable statute of limitations period;

(B) Allege one or more violations that raise similar questions as to liability; and

(C) Seek similar forms of relief.

(3) Employees shall not be considered dissimilar under this subsection solely because their:

(A) Claims seek damages that differ in amount; or

(B) Job titles or other means of classifying employees differ in ways that are unrelated to their claims.

(b)(1) The court, in any action brought under this section shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the prevailing plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow costs of the action, including costs or fees of any nature, and reasonable attorney’s fees, to be paid by the defendant. In any judgment in favor of any employee under this section, and in any proceeding to enforce such a judgment, the court shall award to each attorney for the employee an additional judgment for costs, including attorney’s fees computed pursuant to the matrix approved in Salazar v. District of Columbia, 123 F.Supp.2d 8 (D.D.C. 2000), and updated to account for the current market hourly rates for attorney’s services. The court shall use the rates in effect at the time the determination is made.

(2) If the fees remain unpaid to the attorney at the time of any subsequent review, supplementation, or reconsideration of the fee award, the court shall update the award to reflect the hours actually expended and the market rates in effect at that time. No reduction shall be made from this rate, or from the hours actually expended, except upon clear and convincing evidence that the reduction will serve the remedial purposes of this law. Any court reviewing such a reduction shall review it de novo.

(3) Costs shall also include expert witness fees, depositions fees, witness fees, juror fees, filing fees, certification fees, the costs of collecting and presenting evidence, and any other costs incurred in connection with obtaining, preserving, or enforcing the judgment or administrative order.

(4) The District shall not be required to pay the filing fee or other costs or fees of any nature or to file bond or other security of any nature in connection with any action or proceeding under this section.

(c)(1) Any action commenced in a court of competent jurisdiction on or after February 26, 2015, to enforce any cause of action for unpaid wages or liquidated damages under this chapter, the Minimum Wage Revision Act, the Sick and Safe Leave Act, or the Living Wage Act, or any regulation issued pursuant to this chapter, the Minimum Wage Revision Act, the Sick and Safe Leave Act, or the Living Wage Act, must be commenced within 3 years after the cause of action accrued, or of the last occurrence if the violation is continuous, or the cause of action shall be forever barred.

(2) This period is tolled:

(A) From the date the employee files an administrative complaint with the Mayor until the Mayor notifies the employee in writing that the administrative complaint has been resolved or until the administrative complaint is withdrawn by the employee, whichever is sooner; or

(B) During any period that the employer fails to provide the complainant with actual or constructive notice of the employee’s rights.


(Aug. 3, 1956, 70 Stat. 978, ch. 924, § 8; Feb. 26, 2015, D.C. Law 20-157, § 2(g), 61 DCR 10157; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-266, § 2(f), 64 DCR 2140; Dec. 13, 2017, D.C. Law 22-33, § 1062(a), 64 DCR 7652.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 36-108.

1973 Ed., § 36-608.

Effect of Amendments

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

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 1062(a) of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-167, Oct. 24, 2017, 64 DCR 10802).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 1062(a) of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-104, July 20, 2017, 64 DCR 7032).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(f) 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 § 2(f) 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 § 2(c) 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 § 2(c) 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 § 2(a)(3) of the Wage Theft Prevention Correction and Clarification Congressional Review 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 § 2(c) 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 § 2(c) 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 § 2(c) 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) amendment of this section, see § 2(c) 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) 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 § 2(c) 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 (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a)(3) 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 (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).

Editor's Notes

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.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to a single Commissioner. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.