Seattle Office Of Labor Standards Announced Largest Settlement In Its History
Posted Aug 19, 2019
By Washington State Employment Law Lawyer Elizabeth L. Van Moppes
Today the Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announced a settlement with Leadpoint Business Services (Leadpoint) as the largest in the agency’s history. Leadpoint is an Arizona based staffing company that provided workers for two waste recycling facilities in Seattle. The OLS settlement requires Leadpoint to pay $686,202.00 in backpay, interest, and liquidated damages to 358 current and former workers. Leadpoint unlawfully paid these employees at the small employer minimum wage rate instead of at the higher large employer rate under Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO).
The MWO assigns higher wage rates to employers with 501 or more employees worldwide. This law applies to overtime-eligible employees and went into effect April 1, 2015. It has established a tiered rate of increase for the minimum wage of employees working in Seattle.
Rebecca Smith, National Employment Law Project Director of Work Structures, stated, “This settlement speaks volumes about the importance of workers understanding their rights and having the courage to come forward, and about the importance of company-wide investigations… [OLS is] making great strides enforcing Seattle’s labor laws and holding businesses committing violations accountable for the full extent of their wrongdoing.”
The effectiveness of OLS enforcement, as measured by the amount of assessments to workers due to labor standard violations, has increased dramatically. In 2018, OLS assessed a total of $2,130,619, which was almost twice as much as assessed in the prior three years. During only the first seven months of 2019, OLS assessed over $2,158,000, or more than assessed in all of 2018. “We have made headway in removing cases from the backlog, streamlining our enforcement process, while at the same time not sacrificing effectiveness. It is quite an accomplishment that was achieved through the diligent work of the investigators on our enforcement team,” said OLS Director Martin S. Garfinkel.
This matter highlights for Seattle employers of all sizes the importance of proper classification of employees as overtime-eligible and the subsequent analysis of the application of the MWO. The employment attorneys here at Beresford Booth would be pleased to assist you in analyzing your business and ensuring its compliance with these laws.
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