Case Stories: June - August 2016

Wage Theft
An OLS investigator learned that an IT staffing company had underpaid a worker by $18,998.30, including interest. This was a complex case involving a question about whether the complainant was an employee or independent contractor. After OLS contacted them, the company agreed to settle the case with OLS and repay the worker for all back wages.


Fair Chance Employment
Did a medical/dental care provider take an adverse action against a job applicant because the person had a criminal record? OLS's investigation showed that the company used two factors when it rescinded the offer of employment - the applicant's references as well as the person's criminal history. Because their action was not solely based on criminal history, the rescinded job offer did not violate the Ordinance.

Paid Sick and Safe Time Retaliation
A multi-employer benefit plan administrator had asked for a doctor's note from a worker who used PSST hours, and then disciplined the worker soon after the person used those hours. OLS's investigation revealed that the worker had a documented history of using PSST before and after weekends, holidays, and vacations; in this case, OLS determined that the employer had a reasonable belief that the worker had demonstrated a clear pattern of PSST abuse. Under the PSST ordinance, workers do not have to provide a doctor's note unless they are absent for more than 3 consecutive days; but because there was a pattern of abuse, the employer was within their rights to ask for documentation and to write up the worker.

Wage Theft
An OLS investigator navigated a complex wage theft retaliation case involving a worker who alleged she'd been fired from a Seattle gelato store for requesting wages that were due to her under the employer's vacation policy. However, evidence (including the business's employee log) showed that her termination was for legitimate performance issues, not because she asked about vacation time. OLS issued a no-cause finding.  ·        

Paid Sick and Safe Time
OLS works closely with the City of Seattle's Contracting Office to ensure that city contractors comply with the City's labor standards laws. OLS found that a City of Seattle contractor was rounding down their workers' PSST accruals, did not have a PSST policy, and was not providing proper notification to employees of their balances. The employer agreed with OLS to remedy all the issues as a condition of continuing to contract with the City of Seattle.


Wage Theft: In an investigation involving a local restaurant, the employer failed to pay an employee $1,016 for hours worked due to an internal miscommunication, and the employee ended up out of work for three weeks. The investigator negotiated a settlement agreement for $2,092.96 for loss of wages, interest, and civil penalty, as well as training and compliance monitoring.

Wage theft and Retaliation: Shortly after a worker contacted OLS about possible wage theft by a health care provider, the employer suspended the employee from work. OLS found retaliation in violation of the wage theft and minimum wage ordinances; the remedy included $500 for a first violation, since the matter occurred under the old ordinance, which had a more lenient civil penalty structure.

Minimum Wage
A restaurant told its employees that their hourly rate was $12 an hour, but used employees' tips to reach that amount. An OLS investigator crafted a settlement agreement for back wages to employees for the difference - $2 per hour in 2015 and $1.50 per hour in 2016, to a total of $17,542.02.

Minimum Wage/Wage Theft
OLS investigators attempted to get a response from a carpet cleaning company on allegations of wage theft and minimum wage violations through letters, phone calls, email and a subpoena. OLS's final order included $665 in back wages to two employees and $1,625 in civil penalties for the employer's uncooperative approach.


Paid Sick and Safe Time Although a janitorial/home care business quickly paid the required minimum wage after OLS contacted them, our investigation also revealed issues involving PSST. OLS negotiated a settlement agreement that provided back PSST for employees, totaling $9,710.81 and 1,631.49 hours. The investigation also had to address "successor liability," since the companies involved changed names and ownership during the investigation.

Paid Sick and Safe Time When a flower shop offered PSST but discouraged its employees from using it, an OLS investigator arranged a remedy: the employer agreed with OLS to pay a total of $4,889.43 divided among 12 employees in back PSST plus interest.

Paid Sick and Safe Time When a restaurant manager cancelled employees' shifts after they used Paid Sick and Safe Time, OLS crafted a settlement agreement that included back payment of two days of work for each employee who used PSST, totaling $19,646.80. Although not part of the settlement agreement, the restaurant manager no longer works in Seattle for that company.