Seattle Minimum Wage and Wage Theft Ordinances Take Effect April 1, 2015

4/1/2015 by Portia Moore, Paula Simon



Two significant wage-related ordinances take effect on April 1, 2015, impacting all employers with employees who work in Seattle, whether regularly or occasionally.

The Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance: Minimum wages rise for all employees who perform at least two hours of work in Seattle in a two-week pay period. The Ordinance sets forth additional record-keeping and notice posting requirements, along with provisions on joint employers and integrated enterprises. The city’s new Office of Labor Standards (OLS), which is part of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), has just released the final administrative rules that guide how the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance is interpreted and enforced, available here, along with an extensive FAQ sheet, available here.

The Seattle Wage Theft Ordinance: Although the City of Seattle originally passed a Wage Theft Ordinance in 2011 (amending SMC 12A.08.060), the sole complaint mechanism provided by the 2011 law involved the filing of a criminal complaint to law enforcement. Starting Wednesday, April 1, 2015, a new administrative process will allow employees to file wage theft charges with the OLS.

Since 2006, construction workers on city projects lost more than $275,000 in wages

Wage theft is prevalent, even among construction projects paid for by the city of Seattle.

The city’s Department of Finance and Administrative (FAS) employs six people to monitor wage theft among city construction contracts. Four have been working on the issue since 2006, but last year the council approved two more employees to address an uptick in wage-theft complaints.

Since 2006 the city’s investigators were able to pay construction employees more than $275,000 in recovered wages.

“This is not a unique issue to Seattle,” said Nancy Locke, director of city purchasing, describing how wages are intentionally and unintentionally withheld from workers.

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Seattle contractor who threatened workers with deportation to steal wages sentenced

A Seattle contractor who’d landed more than $1.1 million in government contracts was sentenced Friday to three months in jail for scamming workers out of pay as part of a scheme to underbid his competitors.

Dathan Williams’ thefts from his workers were uncovered following an intensive investigation that saw a Seattle police officer trained as a drywall installer and inserted into his company. Williams, 33, bragged about threatening his employees with deportation when they asked to be paid correctly.

Williams, 33, appears to have been targeted as part of a larger investigation into claims that Washington subcontractors are abusing workers and ignoring wage laws meant to keep opportunistic contractors from underbidding those paying higher wages.

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Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Setting a New Standard for Big Cities

SEATTLE – The City Council here went where no big-city lawmakers have gone before on Monday, raising the local minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum, and pushing Seattle to the forefront of urban efforts to address income inequality.
The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council, after months of discussion by a committee of business and labor leaders convened by Mayor Ed Murray, will give low-wage workers here – in incremental stages, with different tracks for different sizes of business – the highest big-city minimum in the nation.

“Even before the Great Recession a lot of us have started to have doubt and concern about the basic economic promise that underpins economic life in the United States,” said Sally J. Clark, a Council member. “Today Seattle answers that challenge,” she added. “We go into uncharted, unevaluated territory.”

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