Case Stories: January - March 2017

Wage Theft/Paid Sick and Safe Time
A frozen yogurt company paid its employees' the correct minimum wage but kept their tips. The company's wage theft violation occurred from April to November 2015; after the employer received notice of OLS's investigation, they stopped taking tips and repaid current employees $1 per hour in back pay to cover the tips they had taken. However, evidence emerged that the employer's PSST rate was below 1 hour for every 40 hours worked up through January 2016. For more than a year, OLS did not receive information we requested from the employer, despite their multiple promises to provide it. OLS issued a violation finding that included the highest possible penalties - including $500 per employee for violations after 1/16/16 - at the same time offering to reduce the penalties significantly if the employer provided the information necessary to fully remedy the violations. The employer contacted OLS soon after and provided the requested information. In the end, the employer agreed to pay employees $4,369.90 in back pay and interest, $25 per aggrieved party in fines to the City for the PSST violation, and $1,000 for willful resistance of the investigation to the City. 


Paid Sick and Safe Time /Fair Chance Employment
The complainant had alleged he was not paid for four hours on his last paycheck, that he wasn't permitted to use PSST the day before his last day on the job, and that the employer, a temporary staffing agency, included a question about criminal history on its job application - a violation of the Fair Chance Employment law. Our investigation found that the employer had paid the complainant twice for his last week of work - which meant there were no substantive wage theft or PSST issues because the overpayment more than covered any other shortfalls. OLS also found that the employer had violated FCE, lacked a PSST policy, and was not providing PSST notification. The employer's settlement agreement with OLS required the employer to come into full compliance with PSST and FCE, plus pay a $500 penalty to the City.

Paid Sick and Safe Time
After OLS opened an investigation of a local café/shipping company for not providing PSST, the employer agreed to negotiate a settlement agreement, including coming into full compliance, paying employees $723.72 in PSST back wages and interest, and reinstating back-PSST hours. 


Paid Sick and Safe Time
A learning company realized it was out of compliance with PSST before OLS began its investigation. The employer showed OLS it had taken steps to correct the problem by providing all employees with 40 hours of PSST plus $7,544.31 in PSST back pay and interest to employees.

Paid Sick and Safe Time
After lengthy negotiations, a jewelry company agreed to pay two employees a total of $3,680.39 in PSST back wages and interest. At the time, the settlement agreement was executed, neither employee still worked for the employer, so no back-PSST was reinstated.

Fair Chance Employment
A poultry company agreed with OLS to pay a job applicant $500 and implement a Fair Chance Employment policy, after admitting they had not had a legitimate business reason for revoking a job offer and did not provide the applicant with a reasonable opportunity to provide information about his criminal history.

Wage Theft/Paid Sick and Safe Time
The complainant alleged that a fishing company had not paid him for his last 20 hours worked, and that the employer did not provide PSST notification and accrual, or post notices. The employer quickly offered to settle the case, and OLS negotiated a settlement agreement that included 8 hours' PSST reimbursement for the 10 employees who worked hours in Seattle since 2013, and $231 to the complainant who alleged nonpayment. The employer also corrected the notice issues.

Fair Chance Employment
A complainant alleged that a Wellness Center rescinded its employment offer solely because of her criminal history. Evidence showed that the employer called the job applicant after receiving her background report to obtain more information. When the complainant became upset and reacted strongly during the call, the employer decided that the applicant was not the right fit for a job that required a calm demeanor while interacting with patients. Because the employer's decision was not based solely on the applicant's criminal history, there wasn't enough evidence to prove a violation. 


Paid Sick and Safe Time /Wage Theft
OLS investigated a complaint that a local bar did not provide PSST notification or accrual at the proper rate, and also garnished employees' wages when there were shortages in the till or when customers walked out without paying their bill. After OLS initiated its investigation, the employer immediately reached out to settle the matter, and OLS calculated $245.99 in back pay and interest, along with $116 in liquidated damages to employees. The employer also corrected its notification, accrual and use issues, and reinstated back PSST to employees' balances.

Wage Theft/Retaliation
A motel's only employee alleged he was regularly paid in cash without receiving notice of pay information, that the employer deducted money for taxes that it didn't pay to the IRS, and that when he requested pay notification, he was terminated. The employer provided documents countering the complainant's claims, including documentation that it did pay taxes and that it terminated the complainant because he was unreliable. The complainant did not respond to any of OLS's efforts to contact him; in the end OLS closed the investigation because the complainant did not participate.

Minimum Wage/Wage Theft
Employees alleged that a hair salon failed to pay the minimum wage when commissions didn't meet minimum wage requirements, deducted employer expenses from employees' wages, retaliated against employees, and violated the notice requirements. The employees also had filed complaints with WA State Labor and Industries for violations that occurred prior to April 1, 2015. When OLS initiated the investigation, the employer already had paid employees all the back pay it owed them for the wage theft violations, except for one inadvertent oversight. OLS's investigation determined that the salon had overlooked a total of $300 in back pay to two employees, and had retaliated against one employee. Under the law in effect at that time, no remedy existed for this violation, but OLS negotiated a training for employees as part of the settlement agreement, along with the final back pay payment and remedy of the notice violations.

Fair Chance Employment
A fast food restaurant chain required information about applicants' criminal history on their application - a violation of Seattle's Fair Chance Employment law. After an applicant brought the information to OLS, we negotiated a settlement agreement with the employer. The company agreed with OLS to remove the question about criminal history from its application, create and implement a Fair Chance Employment policy, and pay the applicant a $500 remedy.


Wage Theft
OLS investigated a complaint that a temporary employment agency had not paid the complainant for one day of work. After reviewing the employer's payroll records, OLS found evidence that the employer had indeed paid the complainant for the hours she claimed were unpaid. OLS dismissed the complaint.