The City of Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) recently investigated Washington Fine Wine & Spirits, LLC d/b/a Total Wine & More (“Total Wine”) for alleged violations of the Hazard Pay for Grocery Employees Ordinance. Total Wine operates two retail stores within Seattle that sell wine, spirits, beer, and related merchandise. Specifically, OLS alleged that Total Wine was not paying hazard pay of $4 per hour to its hourly employees. As part of the settlement, Total Wine agreed to pay a total of $333,019.57 to 101 current and former hourly Seattle employees.
“Over the past year and a half of the pandemic, the staff at Total Wine have been on the front lines for our work. We are grateful to the Office of Labor Standards for helping us to get the hazard pay that we were owed,” said Jen, a Total Wine employee. “The staff of Total Wine, and all retail workers have put our bodies and our families at risk every day during this pandemic and it feels important that the City of Seattle recognizes that fact. It’s unfortunate that we had to fight to get this recognition, but at the end of the day, we have the compensation we were owed thanks to the assistance we received from the Office of Labor Standards.”
“More than one hundred Total Wine employees, who’ve been working in-person with the public throughout this pandemic, are seeing company-wide accountability for company-wide violations of their right to hazard pay. We know that when there’s one labor rights violation in a workplace, there’s often more. When workers make the brave decision to come forward about violations of their rights, robust enforcement actions like this one help instill real confidence that the City has their back,” said Danielle Alvarado, Executive Director of Working Washington & Fair Work Center.
Total Wine disputes that the Ordinance applies to its business but has voluntarily agreed to resolve the matter through settlement without a determination as to applicability of the Ordinance or any finding of liability. As part of the settlement, Employer agreed to pay a total of $333,019.57 to 101 current and former hourly Seattle employees.
The Grocery Employee Hazard Pay Ordinance (GEHP) is a temporary law that went into effect February 3, 2021. GEHP requires grocery businesses in Seattle to pay hazard pay of $4 per hour to their employees and remains in effect during the Seattle Mayor’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency. Since this Ordinance has been in place, OLS has recovered on behalf of employees at two employers (including Total Wine) a total of $336,080.02 in remedies returned to 121 workers.
“When faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Seattle stepped up to continue to ensure workers’ rights were not only protected, but that workers were supported financially in this time of crisis. Grocery workers, many of whom are low income and BIPOC, were on the front lines from the beginning of the pandemic putting their lives and the lives of loved ones at risk. That’s why it is so important for businesses to comply with the GEHP Ordinance, as well as all of Seattle’s labor standards, as we all work toward building back a stronger economy,” said Steven Marchese, OLS Director.