For Immediate Release
Office of Labor Standards Reaches Settlement with Four Businesses for Alleged Workplace Retaliation and Violations of Seattle Ordinances
Total Financial Remedies Reach Nearly $39,000
Seattle, WA – (March 8, 2023) The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announces four settlements for allegations including workplace retaliation and violation of Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) and Wage Theft Ordinances.
OLS investigated Pink Bee, LLC, a Thai restaurant operating one Seattle location with approximately 12 employees for alleged violations of the PSST and Wage Theft Ordinances. OLS alleged the employer failed to:
- provide employees with a written PSST policy;
- provide required written notices of employment information;
- post up to date required OLS workplace posters; and
- retaliated against one employee for requesting use of PSST.
The company settled the allegations and agreed to pay a total financial remedy of $16,549.89 to one employee. The company also agreed to attend a management training, provide employees with notices of employment information, develop and implement a written PSST policy, and post up to date OLS Workplace Posters.
OLS also investigated Inter-Con Security Systems Inc., Sunset Hill Veterinary & Rehabilitation, Inc., and Koku LLC dba Koku Café Market, Koku Café + Market for alleged violations of retaliation for using PSST.
OLS alleged Inter-Con Security Systems Inc., a California-based company that contracts with businesses to provide security services within the Seattle area, followed an unlawful PSST and on-call policy, and disciplined an employee in retaliation for using PSST when the employee called out for an on-call shift. After OLS initiated its investigation in April 2022, the company rescinded its disciplinary action, developed a compliant PSST policy, and discontinued its unlawful on-call policy. Inter-Con Security Systems Inc. settled the allegations and agreed to pay a total financial remedy of $4,747.98 to the affected employee and $560.93 to the City of Seattle.
Sunset Hill Veterinary & Rehabilitation, Inc. settled with OLS following an investigation of alleged violations of the PSST Ordinance. Allegations included:
- failure to allow an employee to use PSST; and
- retaliation against the employee by initiating a performance meeting and terminating the employee after the employee requested to use PSST.
The employer, which operates one location in Seattle, agreed to pay a total financial remedy of $14,131.54 to the former employee. The employer also agreed to attend OLS’ management training webinar on the PSST Ordinance.
“I just want to focus on the awareness,” said H.I., former Sunset Hill Veterinary & Rehabilitation, Inc. employee. “At this time, when businesses are having a hard time filling positions, it might benefit employees to know that they are protected and supported in their rights as employees.”
Lastly, OLS investigated Koku LLC dba Koku Café Market, Koku Café + Market and its owner for alleged violations of the PSST Ordinance. The restaurant has one location in Seattle with approximately six employees. OLS alleged the employer failed to:
- provide employees with a written PSST policy;
- provide employees with sufficient notice of PSST accrual and balance information; and
- retaliated against one employee for requesting to use PSST.
The company settled the allegations and agreed to pay a total financial remedy of $3,522.14 to one employee and $550 to the City of Seattle. The company also agreed to develop and implement a written PSST policy, provide sufficient notification of PSST accrual and balance information, and attend a management training about PSST policies.
“PSST and Wage Theft are the two ordinances with the highest number of violations in Seattle. While these ordinances are meant to offer workplace protections, we are still seeing retaliation against employees who assert their rights. We know that many small businesses struggle to understand how to comply with our ordinances and make mistakes. For that reason, we work closely with community-based organizations that support small businesses and provide answers to questions and concerns through our technical assistance program with OLS staff. Nevertheless, workplace retaliation in any form is against the law. We encourage business owners with questions to contact our office first before taking any action that might be considered retaliatory,” said Steven Marchese, Director of OLS.
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