April 17, 2015

Knock Knock Knockin' on Nonprofits' Doors: DC's "Zip Code Project" to Search Your Office

2 min

As if the administrative burden of the new DC Wage Theft law notice requirement was not enough, we have learned that the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES), without much fanfare, has begun a program of knocking on Washington, DC employers' doors, unannounced, and asking to inspect non-public portions of their workplaces for compliance with the posting requirements of various DC employment laws. DOES indicated that initially investigators will focus on businesses in the construction, restaurant, home healthcare, daycare, and retail industries.

According to DOES, it has visited approximately 225 DC employers, and found one-third out of compliance. DOES describes these as "preliminary inspection" visits, but has been issuing non-compliant employers a Notice of Violation and placing them on a list for a more thorough follow-up inspection that may result in fines.

Employers have the right to refuse to admit inspectors, but DOES is putting those who refuse on the follow-up list. If DOES is not allowed to do the initial, unannounced inspection, it leaves a letter requiring the employer to call DOES within three days to schedule a follow-up visit. Employers who do not call likely will be put on the list for a follow-up investigation.

Nonprofits with offices in DC should alert your DC-based employees who may be on the "front line" that representatives of DOES may appear in your DC office. Inspectors are specifically looking for the following violations:

DC Wage and Hour Requirements:

  • Posters not placed in a conspicuous place
  • Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act Notice
  • Living Wage Poster
  • Minimum Wage Poster
  • No Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Poster

DC Occupational Safety and Health Requirements:

  • OSHA 3165
  • OSHA 3167
  • OSHA Fact Sheet

DC Workers' Compensation Requirements:

  • Proof of Coverage Form
  • Claim Forms – 7; 7A; 8
  • Notice of Compliance

The obvious question is: Should you let DOES inspect the non-public portions of your workplace? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every nonprofit with a DC office must decide for itself.