Case Stories: April - May 2017

Paid Sick and Safe Time
A worker at a legal temp agency alleged he was retaliated against for trying to use his PSST hours. OLS's investigation showed another side to the story: evidence indicated that the employee was trying to claim his PSST hours retroactively, even though he hadn't followed the employer's notification procedure, and had not shown that his illness prevented him from following the protocol. OLS found that the employer's actions were not retaliatory because under the circumstances, it was reasonable for the employer to believe at the time that the worker's PSST use was a clear instance of abuse.

Paid Sick and Safe Time
A trucking company was alleged to be providing PSST hours at a Tier 2 rate, even though it was a Tier 3 (large) employer. The employer admitted its error as soon as it received notice from OLS, and worked with us to remedy the issue. There was no monetary remedy in this case because employees already had access to more than 30 PSST hours per year, but the employer agreed with OLS to reinstate back-PSST to make their employees whole. 

Wage Theft
OLS's investigation of a local restaurant showed that the employer failed to pay its workers overtime, and that the employer asked its workers to sign documents containing false information critical to the case. The employer sold the restaurant soon after OLS opened its investigation; however, the original owner agreed with OLS to pay employees $1,854.83 in back wages and interest and $845 in liquidated damages, as well as a $1,000 civil penalty to the City for willfully impeding the investigation.


Paid Sick and Safe Time
While monitoring compliance with a previous violation, OLS learned that a local sandwich shop may have retaliated against an employee for using PSST. The worker told OLS that when he called in sick after putting in his two weeks' notice, the employer paid the worker, but took him off the schedule for the remainder of his final two-week period. OLS found that the complainant had told a co-worker he was going to use PSST when he wasn't sick so as not to lose the hours. The co-worker told the manager, who believed that the worker was asking to use PSST in bad faith; she paid the complainant for the PSST hours but removed him from the schedule. OLS decided it was reasonable for the manager to believe the complainant's use was an instance of abuse, even though later evidence indicated the worker was indeed sick. Ultimately, OLS negotiated a settlement agreement that included a $336 payment to the worker (the amount he would have made had he not been taken off the schedule). The employer was not required to admit to a violation because Seattle's PSST law allows for discipline of employees when there is reason to believe there is a clear instance or pattern of abuse.


Paid Sick and Safe Time Retaliation/Illegal Discrimination
OLS joined forces with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights to investigate allegations that a local restaurant chain had retaliated against one of its employees for using PSST hours and discriminated against him. After lengthy negotiations, the employer and the complainant agreed that the complainant would dismiss his SOCR charge in exchange for a settlement with OLS for $3,900 in damages and penalties for PSST retaliation.

Paid Sick and Safe Time
OLS investigated a pizza restaurant over allegations that it did not provide PSST. The investigation found that the employer had been exempt from PSST because it did not have more than four FTEs until 2016 (the minimum threshold for Tier 1 employers). This meant that the restaurant didn't have to comply with PSST until 2017, which was two months after OLS opened its PSST investigation. The final settlement agreement strove to balance employees' PSST rights with the difficulties a small business faces; the employer agreed with OLS to provide back-PSST for the three months it was out of compliance, implement a PSST policy, and attend training.