Resolved Investigations

From the Labor Standards Case Files

Every quarter, 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.

October - December 2020

Paid Sick and Safe Time, Minimum Wage, Wage Theft and Secure Scheduling

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, OLS issued a determination of a violation against Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot and several other individuals acting as employers (collectively, “Little Sheep”) under the Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST), Minimum Wage, Wage Theft, and Secure Scheduling Ordinances. OLS found that Little Sheep was a franchise subject to the Schedule 1 minimum wage; that Little Sheep failed to pay employees the minimum wage; that Little Sheep failed to provide employees with Paid Sick and Safe Time; that Little Sheep failed to pay employees overtime wages or provide sufficient meal and rest breaks; and that Little Sheep failed to provide employees with 14 days’ advance notice of work schedules, among other violations. The total financial remedy was $3,490,581.71 to 147 affected former employees, OLS’ largest financial remedy assessed to date.

More October - December 2020 Stories

July - September 2020

Secure Scheduling

Fred Meyer, a large hypermarket superstore that operates three Seattle locations and employs approximately 750 Seattle employees and thousands of employees worldwide, settled allegations under the Secure Scheduling Ordinance. OLS alleged, among other things, that Fred Meyer failed to pay premium pay for work schedule changes. The total financial remedy was $616,437.63, which included $614,253.35 to 893 affected employees and $2,184.28 to the City of Seattle.

More July - September 2020 Stories

April - June 2020

Minimum Wage (MW) and Wage Theft (WT)

OLS determined Professional Transportation Inc. ("PTI"), a large employer with branch offices across the US and in Washington that provides transportation services to large companies in the railroad, mining, and energy industries, violated the Minimum Wage (MW) and Wage Theft (WT) ordinances. OLS found PTI failed to pay some drivers who were based outside of Seattle, the minimum wage for time spent driving in Seattle. The total financial remedy was $183,198.27, which includes $79,780.72 to 160 affected employees and $103,417.55 to the City of Seattle.

More April - June 2020 Stories

January - March 2020

Fair Chance Employment (FCE)

South West Plumbing, a plumbing company with over 100 plumbers and technicians that serve the King, Snohomish, and Pierce county area, settled allegations under the Fair Chance Employment (FCE) ordinance. OLS alleged the company had a job application that required applicants to disclose criminal history. The total financial remedy was $533 to the applicant.

More January - March 2020 Stories

October - December 2019

Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)

Blackstone Seattle LLC dba Quality Inn & Suites Seattle Center; The Victus Group, Inc. dba Blackstone Hospitality Group, Quality Inn & Suites Seattle City Center (“Quality Inn”), which operates a hotel franchise location with 30 employees in Seattle, settled allegations under the Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance. OLS alleged the company did not provide notification of PSST balances during part of 2016 and had an unlawful cap on PSST accrual through mid-2018. The total financial remedy was $10,875 which includes $10,375 to 58 affected employees and $500 to the City of Seattle.

More October - December 2019 Stories

July - September 2019

Minimum Wage and Wage Theft

FPR-II, LLC dba;Leadpoint,Leadpoint;Business Services ("Leadpoint"), a company that provides staffing for two waste recycling facilities in Seattle, settled allegations under the Wage Theft and Minimum Wage ordinances. OLS alleged that Leadpoint failed to pay the correct minimum wage for a large employer. In settlement,Leadpoint agreed to pay a total financial remedy of $686,202.67 to 358 affected current and former workers - the largest financial remedy OLS has achieved in a single investigation to date.

More July - September 2019 Stories

April - June 2019

Secured Scheduling

Qdoba Restaurant Corporation dba Qdoba Eats 2479, Qdoba Mexican Eats 2588, Qdoba Mexican Eats 2956 ("Qdoba"), which operates three restaurant locations in Seattle and employs 47 Seattle employees, settled allegations under the Secure Scheduling ordinance. Specifically, OLS alleged that Qdoba was not paying premium pay for work schedule changes or back-to-back opening and closing shifts separated by less than ten hours. The total financial remedy was $96,647.35 to 99 affected employees.

More April - June 2019 Stories

January - March 2019

Secured Scheduling and Wage Theft

California Pizza Kitchen (“CPK”), a restaurant which employs approximately 50 employees at one Seattle location and over 12,000 employees at over 40 locations worldwide, agreed to settle with OLS for alleged violations of the Secure Scheduling and Wage Theft Ordinances. In settlement, CPK agreed to pay a total of $30,944.78 to 84 (past and current) employees for alleged violations relating to missed rest breaks and compensation for work schedule changes.

More January - March 2019 Stories

October - December 2018

Paid Sick and Safe Time and Wage Theft

Bill Speidel Enterprises, Inc. dba Underground Tours (“Underground Tours”), which operates one location in Seattle and employs approximately 60-70 employees who provide walking tours through Seattle’s underground, agreed to settle allegations under the Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) and Wage Theft Ordinances. The complete financial remedy was $986.36 to one worker for allegations related to meal and rest breaks and tips.

More October - December 2018 Stories

July - September 2018

Minimum Wage and Wage Theft

OLS issued a determination against Blessed Limousine, Inc., a transportation service company. OLS found that the company violated the Minimum Wage and Wage Theft ordinances for failing to pay one of its employees for all hours worked and by failing to provide written notices of employment information. Blessed Limousine had previously settled another investigation with almost identical allegations. OLS ordered payment of $1,162.80 in back wages, interest and liquidated damages, and $5,230 in civil penalties and fines.

More July - September 2018 Stories

April - June 2018

Minimum Wage and Wage Theft

On April 27, 2018, OLS issued a determination against Citizen, a café and bar in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood, for violations of the Minimum Wage (MW) and Wage Theft (WT) Ordinances. OLS found that Citizen paid employees $9.47 per hour (in violation of the minimum wage requirements) during the period between April 1, 2015 and March 11, 2016. OLS ordered Citizen to pay a total financial remedy of $4,296.26, to ten affected employees, and a $500.00 civil penalty to the City of Seattle. June 2018 update: Due to Citizen's failure to pay the ordered amounts, OLS transferred the case to the City Attorney for enforcement of the unpaid order and referred the matter to the City's Finance and Administrative Services for revocation of Citizen's business license.

More April- June 2018 Stories

January - April 2018

Wage Theft

OLS investigated Wataru Sushi, a Seattle restaurant, for allegedly withholding tips from employees. Because the owner and manager themselves worked in the restaurant, they thought they could share in their employees' tips. In fact, owners and managers are prohibited from entering into tip-pooling arrangements with their employees. In a settlement executed on January 2, 2018, Wataru agreed to pay back $101,824.91 in unpaid tips plus $12,723.57 in accrued interest to 35 employees. It also agreed to correct and update its tipping policy. Finally, the employer agreed to settle a retaliation claim of one employee (in the total amount of $12,363) who alleged that she had been fired because she questioned the tip-pooling practice.

More January - April 2018 Stories

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