DC Department of Employment Services (“DOES”) Interviews City Manager

March 8th, 2018

Council member Silverman Statement on DOES Director Odie Donald Interviewing for City Manager Position in Georgia


On Friday, March 2, 2018, Odie Donald, Director of the Department of Employment Services (DOES), unexpectedly resigned after two years, to return to Georgia. March 16, 2018 will be his last day with the District.  This announcement blindsided many local officials.  This announcement also comes at a critical time for the District because DOES is the agency responsible for the implementation of universal paid leave and Director Donald was the “point man”.  It is unknown whether this departure will delay the program’s implementation.  Until a permanent replacement is announced, Dr. Unique Morris Hughes will serve as the interim director.


D.C. ‘Rolled Out the Red Carpet’ for a Company Accused of Wage Fraud

With the building boom unabated, one issue D.C. voters can expect to hear a lot about come election year is jobs. Every public land sale, commercial project, mixed-use development, or residential complex comes with mayoral promises of opportunities for a growing labor force.

But the D.C. Apprenticeship Council’s recent certification of an out-of-state contractor and accusations of wage fraud have prompted an investigation by Attorney General Karl Racine and claims by unions and labor advocates that a bad actor is going unchecked. At-large D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman worries that the District isn’t enforcing its own labor laws.


Greater Washington Added Fewer Jobs in 2016 Than First Thought, Economists Are Worried

Greater Washington’s job growth in the second half of 2016 has been revised downward and that has regional economists worried about the region’s resilience in the face of potential federal spending cuts.

The D.C. region added 55,600 jobs in 2016, according to final data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — about 16,800 fewer than the agency had initially counted. The downward revision was reflected largely in only the last few months of the year, according to economist Stephen Fuller.

The preliminary estimate of 72,400 jobs added would have given Greater Washington its largest increase since 2000, but the revisions mean job growth lagged behind 2015.

The biggest increase in jobs came from professional and business services. Originally the BLS said that area had gained 20,200 jobs, but that has been revised downward to 17,000. And preliminary data that showed 8,700 new retail jobs was erased. Just 700 new retail jobs were added, according to Fuller.

“This clearly is a yellow caution flag. And I don’t know that the region is at all prepared to respond to it,” he said in an interview.


‘Fair scheduling’ bill dies in D.C. Council

Legislation intended to give hourly employees more predictable work schedules effectively died Tuesday before the D.C. Council, with lawmakers saying that they were hesitant to pile too many costs onto employers in a single year.

The D.C. Council voted 9 to 4 to table the bill, leaving little chance that lawmakers would reach a final decision this session on the council’s third major pro-labor bill.

The legislation, which mirrors similar laws passed in San Francisco and Seattle, would have mandated that employers give workers two weeks’ advance notice of their scheduled hours. It also would have required bosses to give part-time workers priority when filling full-time shifts.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) predicted that the legislative body would focus instead on finishing a bill that would require private employers to provide paid family leave, to be funded by a new corporate tax. That bill follows a decision in the spring to ratchet up the city’s hourly minimum wage to $15 by the end of the decade.

“My concern was we were getting too far into the details of telling businesses how to operate,” Mendelson said. “But that was a concern, not a judgment. There is a possibility this issue comes back up” next year.

D.C. Council to probe agency shake-up that followed stadium contracts

Muriel Press Conf
Mayor Muriel Bowser joins city officials, including Department of General Services Director Christopher Weaver, right, to mark the start of demolition at the St. Elizabeths campus in February. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

A D.C. Council member says she will hold a hearing into the abrupt resignation of a member of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s cabinet and dismissals of two top officials this month from the city agency responsible for government construction.

Christopher Weaver, a retired Navy rear admiral, resigned as director of the Department of General Services on Aug. 12, citing personal obligations. The following Monday, the Bowser administration placed Weaver’s associate director and a deputy general counsel on administrative leave.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), whose committee oversees the agency, said she wants a hearing to determine whether there were improper attempts to influence the contracting process.

“There have been enough, sort of, allegations out there of irregular personnel actions and perhaps contract involvement that may not be appropriate, so I just want to, if nothing else, clear the air,” Cheh said. “If there’s nothing there, there’s nothing there. But we want to get to the bottom of it.”

The departures came after a major donor to Bowser (D) and other politicians, D.C.-based Fort Myer Construction, failed to win a couple of construction contracts.

One contract was to prepare the $100 million site on Buzzard Point that the city is providing for a D.C. United soccer stadium. The other was for work on the St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast, where Bowser has promised a $65 million practice arena for the Washington Wizards basketball team.


Massachusetts Companies to Pay $2.4M in Damages

Massachusetts companies to pay $2.4M in overtime, damages to 478 workers, most intentionally misclassified as independent contractors


The following are excerpts from the USDOL press release:

A Lunenburg construction company and a Framingham company it used to avoid its legal responsibilities as an employer have been ordered to pay a total of $2,359,685 in back wages and liquidated damages to 478 employees and take other corrective actions to prevent future violations of federal labor law. Under a consent judgment they will also pay $262,900 in civil money penalties due to the willful nature of their violations.

An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Force Corp., AB Construction Group Inc. and employers Juliano Fernandes and Anderson Dos Santos misclassified the bulk of their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them overtime wages and other benefits to which they were entitled under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, the defendants used a combination of payroll checks and cash/check payments to pay their employees straight time when overtime pay was required, and kept inadequate and inaccurate time and payroll records.

“The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a serious problem that hurts workers, taxpayers, and the entire economy in multiple ways,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s New England regional solicitor.  “It robs employees of their rights to proper wages, safe workplaces, social security payments, and unemployment and workers compensation insurance. It deprives federal and state governments of needed tax revenues. And, it undercuts law-abiding employers who pay their workers legally and play by the rules.”

Find the full press release here.