D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is suing a janitorial company and its franchise, alleging it did not allow employees to take sick leave and charged them multiple fees.
Racine called Jan-Pro Franchising International and Jan-Pro of Washington, D.C.’s practices “a multilevel franchising scheme” that misclassified janitorial employees.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the civil division of D.C. Superior Court following an extensive investigation.
“This illegal scheme was a clear bait-and-switch, which effectively forced workers to shoulder Jan Pro’s business costs,” Racine said in a statement. “If any company steals their employee’s hard-earned wages and benefits, my office will hold them accountable.”
The Attorney General’s office claims that District janitors were tricked into signing “franchise agreements” that were classified by the company as “independent contractors.”
The lawsuit alleges that this was illegal and used to make unlawful deductions from their wages.
Those classifications let the company apply “a blizzard of unlawful deductions” to employee salaries, according to the office, along with a recurring monthly fee of nearly 25% of their total monthly earnings.
The deductions were taken automatically.
D.C. law does not allow for unlawful deductions from employee income.
Jan-Pro International was sued for sub-franchising through its regional companies, a practice that Racine’s office said included contracts that do not classify janitors as employees.
Both businesses, according to the complaint, are believed to have violated the District’s Wage Payment and Collection Law and Sick and Safe Leave Act by making unlawful deductions and failing to provide paid sick leave to misclassified employees.
The office is seeking a jury trial for damages and penalties from the company, preventive action to stop the misclassification of workers and statutory penalties for each violation of District law.
WTOP has reached out to Jan-Pro International for comment on the pending litigation. It has yet to respond to the request.