Majority of Restaurants in Washington, D.C. Fail to Comply with Tips Disclosure Requirements, a New Report Says, Raising Concerns over Prevalence of Wage Theft

Findings are based on information obtained from the D.C. Department of Employment Services under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the D.C. Jobs With Justice and Restaurant Opportunities Centers–D.C. released a new report on widespread and longstanding failures of restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area — including those that are managed and operated by prominent and large food establishments with more than $23 million in annual sales — to comply with tips disclosure requirements. 

An overwhelming majority of these restaurant establishments are not reporting their quarterly tips to the D.C. Department of Employment Services, according to a report that has not been publicly disclosed before, making it nearly impossible to know whether restaurant workers are getting paid the required full minimum wage and therefore raising more serious concerns about the level of wage theft that could be occurring in noncompliant restaurants.

The report, Still in the Dark: Tipped Wages in D.C., is based on information obtained from the D.C. Department of Employment Services under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and compared to Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) data. Key findings include:

  • Between April 2021 and March 2022 (the period covered in the report), while restaurants are legally required to report their tips every three months, only 11 percent of D.C. restaurants consistently complied with the requirement.
  • Several prominent restaurants, including the ones owned or operated by celebrities such as Chef Jose Andres and the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, failed to comply. 
  • Only 498 total businesses, or 35% of D.C. restaurants, have reported at least once a year during the period of investigation
  • Currently, there are only 162 businesses, or 11%, that reported consistently. As a result, 922 establishments (64% of them are restaurants and bars that have liquor licenses) did not disclose their quarterly tips.

“Wage theft is rampant across the restaurant industry. Even with best-in-the-nation worker protections, we still don’t actually know what is happening in D.C.’s restaurants, and tipped workers remain vulnerable to wage theft. We had to FOIA DOES and win on an appeal in order to access the public data regarding tipped wages,” Elizabeth Falcon, Executive Director of DCJWJ, said: And then, when we did get it, we found we could only truly see what was happening at 11% of D.C.’s restaurants. The other 89% are either fully or partially out of compliance. In DC, restaurants and other employers paying the tipped minimum are required to disclose their wages, but they don’t.”

Sophia Miyoshi, Lead Organizer at ROC-D.C., said: “Compliance with reporting through the tip portal is just one important step in holding employers accountable. It is not enough for us to pass laws that protect workers, we also need to enforce them. Workers are tired of being taken advantage of, tired of being treated as disposable and tired of having their paychecks played with. We need transparency around pay and tipping at all levels, from within restaurants to city wide reporting to ensure everyone is getting paid at least the minimum wage. 

In 2018, when the D.C. Council overturned Initiative 77, it included a requirement that the D.C. Department of Employment Services must receive a quarterly report of all wages and tips from employers using the tipped minimum wage to ensure all employees are at least making the full minimum wage. Four years later, an investigation discovered widespread noncompliance.

At the press briefing on Wednesday, restaurant workers shared their experiences on how noncompliance of restaurant owners has continued to affect their jobs, livelihood, and work environment.

To access the full report, visit: For further information and to arrange media interviews, please contact the ROC United Department of Communication: or