October 8, 2020

Washington, DC – Employees of the District government are subject to a workers’ compensation system that routinely puts them at a disadvantage in care and coverage, compared to workers covered by compensation systems in the private sector, according to an investigation published today by Washington City Paper.

A months-long investigation by freelance journalist Rachel Cohen exposes a history of unequal treatment for District workers injured on the job. The matter is coming before the District council, which makes Cohen’s article both important and timely.

Cohen’s article received immediate attention in social media:

“A new investigation into how the District handles workers’ comp for public sector employees has everything a local policy wonk could want,” DCLine wrote in its morning newsletter. “Talk of needed reforms and an upcoming public hearing; references to a “separate and unequal” system, the 1990s financial crisis and a shift in legislative oversight responsibility; and even multiple laws adopted via budget support acts with scant legislative history.”

“The less wonkish need not worry, though,” it adds. “It also includes ample accounts from people slated to lose benefits that wouldn’t be at risk if they had worked in the private sector.”

Cohen’s investigation was supported by a grant from SpotlightDC: Capital City Fund for Investigative Journalism. SpotlightDC is a 501c(3) nonprofit that seeks charitable donations it awards to worthy journalism projects covering the DC region, seeking to hold the powerful to account and foster change that will improve the lives of Washingtonians.

“Rachel Cohen’s important investigation of DC’s flawed workers’ compensation system fulfills SpotlightDC’s mission of  supporting groundbreaking journalism that shed light on under-reported  Washington City Paper’s publication of” says Harry Jaffe, president. “We encourage other journalists to propose projects for funding to spotlightdc.org.”

SpotlightDC also supported this week’s publication of Joshua Kaplan’s investigation of flaws in DC’s eviction system by DCist (https://bit.ly/3iz2xNY).