January - March 2022

OLS investigated MV Transportation, Inc., the largest privately-owned passenger transportation contracting services in the United States, for alleged violations of the Fair Chance Employment (FCE) Ordinance. The company, based in Texas, has one office in Seattle. OLS investigated allegations that the employer unlawfully terminated a person’s employment based on information in the person’s criminal background report when it failed to 1) identify to the employee the record(s) or information on which it was relying, 2) provide the employee with a reasonable opportunity to explain or correct criminal background check information, 3) conduct a proper legitimate business reason analysis, and 4) hold the position open for two business days after notifying the employee of their intent to terminate him. The company agreed to pay the former employee a penalty of $556.30. 

Coffee James LLC dba The Bounty, and its owner, James Eeckhoudt, Jr., settled allegations under the Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) ordinance. The coffee shop has one Seattle location with approximately seven employees. During the investigation, OLS alleged that the business and its owner denied an employee PSST and terminated the employee in retaliation for requesting use of PSST. OLS also alleged that the employers lacked a written PSST policy and failed to consistently provide PSST balance notification to its employees, leaving some employees unaware of their ability to access or use PSST. The employers settled the investigation and agreed to develop, implement, and distribute a written PSST policy to all Seattle employees; regularly notify employees of PSST accrued, used, and available; pay the City of Seattle a fine of $600; and pay the former employee $9,305.22 in back wages, interest, liquidated damages, civil penalties, and fines.  

C.J. Park, LLC dba Super Deli Mart, and its owners Byung Suk Park, Jung Park, Eric Park, and Brian Park, settled allegations under the Minimum Wage, PSST, and Wage Theft ordinances. The deli and convenience store has one Seattle location with approximately eight employees, and specializes in selling bottled, canned, and draft beer. OLS alleged that the employer sometimes paid employees below Seattle’s required minimum compensation, had no PSST policy, failed to provide PSST when employees call out sick, and did not provide all employees with notice of accrued PSST balances. OLS also alleged that the employers failed to give employees notice of their tip pooling and tip allocation policies, did not pay all collected tips to employees, and unlawfully participated in the tip pool. The employers settled the investigation and agreed to pay $218,750 in back wages, interest, liquidated damages, and penalties to 29 affected workers and $1,250 in fines to the City of Seattle. Takeaway lessons: Managers and owners cannot participate in tip pools, and, for credit card processing fees, an employer can deduct from a tip an amount proportionate to the tip’s size as compared to the entire credit card transaction. For example, if a customer leaves a $2 tip on a $10 bill, resulting in a credit card charge of $12, the employer may deduct no more than 2/12 of the applicable credit card processing fee from the employee’s tip. 

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The Office of Labor Standards enforces Seattle’s labor standards ordinances to protect workers and educate employers on their responsibilities.