How can Seattle successfully enforce labor standards if employers who break the rules get off scot-free, and workers aren't even made whole for lost wages?
A new report by the Seattle city auditor shows that in the past year, the city sent 141 non-punitive "advisory letters" to employers about violations of our paid sick time law. Just 8 workers received backpay. And zero penalties and fines were assessed.
Incredibly, the auditor investigating sick leave enforcement also found that one single employer has received eight different advisory letters requesting compliance with the sick leave law. Eight! Each time the case was closed, when the employer said they would follow the law. But it kept on happening. And no fines were ever issued, against that employer or any others.
Working Washington strongly supports the mayor’s proposal for an Office of Labor Standards. It’s a good step forward to address some of the issues with enforcement of paid sick time, wage theft and the $15 minimum wage. But the funding being considered is not enough to get the job done.
Successful enforcement will require adequate funding of a city partnership with a community organization that establishes a clear place for workers to go where they can get information from trusted sources and address any violations of the minimum wage law or other labor standards. That’s the only we can make sure that $15 and all of our labor standards become a reality for all Seattle workers.