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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Office Of Labor Standards Reaches Settlement With Seattle Cleaning Company

(Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/JaruekChairak)

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announces a settlement agreement with Susan’s Green Cleaning, a house cleaning company with approximately 25 employees in Seattle, under the Minimum Wage, Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST), and Wage Theft Ordinances. The financial remedy included $291,306.54 to 98 workers for negotiated amounts of back wages and damages for the period of May 3, 2016, to December 31, 2019. The settlement also included $667.56 in fines to the City of Seattle.

After receiving worker complaints, OLS investigated a number of allegations against the company, including that the company:

  • Failed to pay the Seattle Minimum Wage for some employees;
  • Made unauthorized deductions from employees’ pay to cover training costs and costs for broken or lost equipment;
  • Did not provide paid rest breaks or consistent meal breaks;
  • Failed to pay some employees for all hours worked;
  • Failed to provide employees with the company’s tip policy;
  • Had a sick leave policy that violated a number of provisions of the PSST Ordinance, including carry-over requirements;
  • Failed to track and maintain records concerning basic PSST information;
  • Failed to provide employees with required notice of their PSST balances; and
  • Had a retaliatory policy of denying workers a $2/hour bonus for pay periods in which they used PSST.

“This settlement sheds light on workplace violations that often go unreported, such as alleged unpaid work and missed breaks, that can occur among house cleaners and other domestic workers due to the nature of their work in private homes. This time, because of the courageous people who stepped forward to report workplace violations at Susan’s Green Cleaning to the Office of Labor Standards, these workers will get the remedies they deserve,” said Baily Freeman and Silvia Gonzales, Domestic Workers Standards Board Co-Chairs. “It is important that employers and hiring entities acknowledge the work of domestic workers both in private households and those who work as part of a larger business by putting them first and complying with Seattle’s labor standards.”

When initially contacted by OLS, Susan’s Green Cleaning began changing and improving its systems during the course of the investigation and resolved numerous alleged violations before reaching a settlement with OLS. “We acknowledge the efforts Susan’s Green Cleaning made to come back into compliance and agreeing to labor standards training. We are here to help all Seattle businesses stay in compliance with free training and technical assistance. The more knowledgeable Seattle businesses are about employee rights and labor laws, the better off for the entire economy,” said Steven Marchese, OLS Director.

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