In 2020, Businesses Paid More than $4 Million in Remedies for Seattle Labor Violations

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According to data reports published by the Seattle Office of Labor Standards – which enforces the City’s labor standards for minimum wage, Paid Sick and Safe Time, Fair Chance Employment, and other related laws – businesses with employees in Seattle paid out more than $4 million in financial remedies as a result of Seattle Office of Labor Standards investigations.  This sum includes:

  • $2,664,478 in remedies assessed under the Secure Scheduling Ordinance, which requires covered employers to provide advance notice of work schedules and expected hours as well as other scheduling-related protections;
  • $536,330 in remedies assessed under the Wage Theft Ordinance, which requires employers to pay employees all wages and tips owed;
  • $380,455 in remedies assessed under the Minimum Wage Ordinance, which establishes the minimum wage for employees working within city limits;
  • $361,951 in remedies assessed under the Gig Worker Premium Pay Ordinance, a law enacted in response to the COVID-19 civil emergency which requires that certain gig workers to receive at least $2.50 of premium pay per food, beverage, or delivery order to or from the City of Seattle;
  • $221,585 in remedies assessed under the Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance, which requires employers to provide paid sick and safe leave to employees (note: this law was amended in March 2020 to expand the uses of paid sick and safe leave);
  • $3,237 in remedies assessed under the Fair Chance Employment Ordinance, which restricts how employers can use conviction and arrest records during the hiring process and in the course of employment within the city limits; and
  • $434 in remedies assessed under the Gig Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance, a law enacted in response to the COVID-19 civil emergency which requires that certain gig workers have access to aid sick and safe time.

Unfortunately, even businesses that endeavor to treat employees fairly can inadvertently commit violations.  Employment law is fast-changing field, especially in the State of Washington and the City of Seattle, which have both been on the forefront of employee-friendly legislation.  In addition, this year, we have seen legislation and governor’s orders implemented in response to COVID-19 that substantially impact employers’ obligations.  What the law requires is not always intuitive: it is essential to have legal guidance on everything from general employment policies and practices to specific hiring and firing decisions.

If you are a business that employs people who work in the City of Seattle – even if your actual place of business is not located in the city – you cannot afford to be doing business without consulting an employment attorney.  Most people do not think to hire an attorney until something goes wrong but an investment in legal counsel on the front-end could potentially spare you the cost, stress, and bad publicity of an investigation or a lawsuit.

Whether you need help establishing your policies and practices or defense through an investigation or lawsuit, we welcome you to reach out.


About the Authors

Emma Kazaryan

Emma Kazaryan is an employment attorney in the firm’s employment and litigation practice groups. Emma has successfully represented clients in severance negotiations; workplace investigations; Seattle Office of Labor Standards investigations; and wrongful discharge, discrimination, and retaliation claims. She also counsels employers regarding best-practices and drafting employee handbooks, employment agreements, and employment policies. She has been recognized by the Best Lawyers publication as a “One to Watch.”

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