For Immediate Release
August 3, 2018
Contact: Cynthia Santana, Communications Manager, 206-256-5219, email@example.com
During the Second Quarter of 2018, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards Resolved 40 Investigations Resulting in Payments of over $285,000 in Remedies
A local restaurant company reached a settlement for over $126,000 on behalf of 18 low wage workers
Seattle – (August 3, 2018) – From April through June 2018, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) settled 40 investigations with 25 employers, and issued determinations involving three employers. Under the settlements, employers agreed to pay a total of $285,00 in total remedies, with 76 workers receiving backpay.
One of the largest settlements was with Zaina Food Drinks and Friends, which has operated three restaurants in Seattle. The investigation found the business owner did not pay credit card tips to the workers, in violation of the Wage Theft ordinance, nor did he provide paid sick/safe time as required by the Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) law. The total recovery for 18 workers was $126,209, which included unpaid overtime. The payments to workers ranged from $60 to $36,000.
Zaina cooperated with OLS during the investigation but struggled to produce accurate and complete records in a timely manner. As part of the settlement agreement, Zaina agreed to bring its recordkeeping practices up to Seattle’s standards, and implement and distribute a written PSST policy.
“As an employer I have to take care of my employees,” said Shaher Abuelkhair, Zaina Restaurant Owner. “I told them I am sorry, I misunderstood the ordinance and whatever the settlement was I would pay them.”
One worker, Qossay Issa, received a backpay check of more than $30,000. “Now I have time and money to learn English, take nursing classes and visit my family,” said Mr. Issa, former Zaina employee. “I came here, and I didn’t know English, but I know a little bit and know about the law,” he said. “I tell everyone, if you have a problem, you have a place to go and people who will help you.”
Elena Perez, Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Seattle noted: “Nationwide, wage theft amounts to $50 billion annually and is more than all other theft combined. It is especially widespread in the restaurant industry. ROC-Seattle remains committed to partnering with the Office of Labor Standards in building awareness around workers’ rights to tips and service charges, and we encourage workers and owners to reach out to us or OLS if they have compliance questions.”
To learn more about other case closures, visit our Investigations page located on the OLS website.