Case Stories

From the Labor Standards Case Files

Every month, the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) posts a Dashboard summary of investigations and their results, along with the numbers of inquiries we respond to from workers and employers about Seattle's labor standards.

We're proud of our statistics, but they only tell part of the story. Each and every investigation represents the lived experience of workers and employers, as well as the efforts of our dedicated investigators to enforce Seattle's Labor Standards laws. Here are summaries of just some of our closed investigations, beginning with our most recent cases, and going back to June 2016.

At the start of an investigation, OLS investigators gather evidence to determine if an employer is following the City of Seattle's labor standards. If our investigation shows that an employer is not in compliance, our remedies (included in either a settlement agreement or Director's Order) ensure that the employer complies completely with the ordinances, employees are made whole, and the employer learns about its legal obligations. You can learn more about our investigative process here.

April - May 2017

Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)

A painting company admitted that it had not provided PSST for Seattle work-hours. A Collective Bargaining Agreement waived PSST as of May 2016, but the employer still needed to remedy the violations that preceded the CBA. Over a nine-month period, the employer did not comply with OLS's multiple requests for information. To ensure workers were paid as soon as possible, OLS assessed high penalties but offered to reduce them if the employer paid all back wages and interest - a total of $6,712.25 - to employees within 10 days. The employer agreed, and OLS reduced the initial penalty assessment from $10,500 to $1,000 for willful interference. At the end of the investigation, the employer invited OLS's investigator to lead a training for his employees on their labor standards rights.

More April - May 2017 Stories

January - March 2017

Fair Chance Employment

OLS investigated a cleaning company for including a categorical exclusion in a job ad, not hiring an applicant based on a conviction record without a legitimate business reason, and not providing the applicant with a reasonable opportunity to provide information regarding his criminal history. After the employer indicated it wanted to settle the matter, OLS crafted settlement language to include payment of a $500 penalty to the complainant and ample compliance monitoring. 

More January - March 2017 Stories

September - December 2016

Wage Theft

After a worker alleged that a communications tech company did not pay him a commission for his last month of work, the employer submitted the employment contract signed by the complainant that explicitly stated that the employer reserved the right to adjust commission rates when the profit margins were substantially different than average sales. While the contract demonstrated that no violation had occurred, OLS's intake investigator negotiated a settlement agreement in which the employer agreed to pay the complainant $2,000 to settle the matter.

More September- December 2016 Stories

June - August 2016

Intake Negotiations

Sometimes the Labor Standards intake office resolves situations at the front end, without advancing them to a full investigation. OLS settled three cases at the intake stage in July 2016, including two employers' requirements that employees provide notes from medical providers after using just 1 day of PSST (instead of the more than 3 consecutive days mandated by the law), and an employer's failure to permit accrual of PSST for the first 180 days of employment. Negotiations resulted in back-accrual, amended policies and payment to employees for unnecessary co-pays.

More June - August 2016 Stories