DC attorney general claims companies refuse service east of Anacostia River

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has filed one discrimination lawsuit, and settled another case, both claiming companies denied service to residents who live east of the Anacostia River.

The new suit is against Lend A Box, a Virginia-based company that delivers rental moving boxes to one location, which the company delivers to another location.

According to Racine’s office, an investigator tested the company’s online reservation tool to see whether residents of every D.C. ZIP code could reserve rental boxes online, and discovered requests for 20020 and 20032, in Wards 7 and 8, were the only ones denied.

Residents in those two ZIP codes are predominantly Black, Racine said in a news release: “District law guarantees that residents will not be denied goods or services because of where they live, and today’s actions demonstrate OAG’s commitment to protecting this basic civil right.”

Lend A Box President Janice Gambaccini released a statement: “We are shocked and very concerned by the District of Columbia’s accusations. Lend A Box does not discriminate and takes the District’s concerns seriously.”

Gambaccini said her company was notified of the issue in October 2020, and responded in writing, in accordance with the deadlines.

“No further correspondence or reply from the OAG was provided, until the public was made aware via the media. We look forward to having this misunderstanding resolved,” Gambaccini said.

In the settled action, a Bethesda-based home improvement company, Design Builders, while maintaining it did not discriminate, “has agreed not to pick and choose where in the District to provide services,” Racine said.

“When an OAG investigator requested a quote for a hypothetical project at a location east of the river, a Design Builders employee confirmed that the company’s ‘easternmost territory ends at the Anacostia River,'” according to Racine’s office.

The company agreed to pay the District $15,000, provide service to all D.C. residents and update company policies and training for all employees, officers and contractors.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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