U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour dismissed a lawsuit that challenged Seattle’s law requiring grocery employees in Seattle to receive hazard pay of $4 per hour during the COVID-19 emergency. The case was dismissed with prejudice today.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “This is a big win for grocery store employees who have been critical and vulnerable frontline workers since the start of the pandemic. We brought strong legal arguments to prevail today, and I’m thankful to Assistant City Attorneys Jeremiah Miller, Erica Franklin, and Derrick De Vera for seeing us through to victory.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan said, “Hope in on the horizon with the federal courts dismissing this lawsuit on hazard pay and grocery store workers now receiving access to vaccines. Grocery story workers have been working on the front lines of this pandemic, keeping communities fed for over a year, and fortunately justice prevailed for our workers.”
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) said, “Two days in a row, our City Attorney’s office has defended against attacks on workers’ rights, and won. Grocery workers have the stability they need to receive compensation for their sacrifices to keep our community healthy, fed, and safe. Thank you to the grocery workers and members of UFCW 21 who have continued to fight for vaccines, protective equipment, and hazard pay. And, thank you to the overwhelming majority of Seattle residents who support hazard pay, wear their masks, and take precautions to keep our community safe.”
“The court’s dismissal of this lawsuit means Seattle’s grocery store workers will be fairly paid hazard pay for their sacrifices working throughout this pandemic to keep food access open, despite the risks to their own health and safety and that of their families. Thank you to the City Attorney’s Office for successfully defending this case. And thank you the members of UFCW21 for continuing the fight for all workers. The past two weeks have been extraordinary in vindicating the City Council’s legislative efforts in court to protect Seattle workers,” said Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide).
Under the temporary law, grocery store businesses that employ more than 500 employees worldwide are required to provide hazard pay of $4 per hour to their employees during the COVID-19 emergency. The ordinance would not impact convenience stores or food marts primarily selling a limited line of goods.
Covered grocery store businesses are retail stores that are either:
- Over 10,000 square feet in size and primarily engaged in retailing groceries for offsite consumption; or
- Over 85,000 square feet, with 30 percent or more of its sales floor area dedicated to sale of groceries.
Seattle joins a national effort to require hazard pay for grocery store workers in municipalities including Burien, King County, Berkeley, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Hollywood, Berkeley, Oakland, Montebello, and Los Angeles County.