Wildfire smoke & your right to paid sick days // El humo de los incendios forestales y los días pagados de enfermedad

Esta noticia se puede leer en español abajo.

Attention Washington workers: you have the right to take paid sick time to protect your health from the wildfire smoke currently choking our state. 

Wildfire smoke is unhealthy for everyone, and you do not have to provide details as to why you are taking a sick day. For example, you can simply say you are taking a sick day because you have a cough, a headache, or another health symptom associated with exposure to smoke. As always, you also have the right to take a sick day if you have a sick family member, and during the COVID emergency you can also use sick days if a child’s school or place of care has been closed for any health-related reason by order of a public official.

The company you work for cannot legally ask for a doctor’s note or other documentation unless you take more than three consecutive sick days, and they cannot retaliate against you for using sick time you have accrued.

If you do gig delivery work in Seattle, you ALSO have access to paid sick days, and you can also take a sick day due to smoke. More info on gig workers’ right to sick days here.


Atención trabajadores en Washington: tienen el derecho de tomar tiempo pagado de enfermedad para proteger su salud del humo de los incendios forestales, que actualmente está amenazando a todos partes de nuestro estado. 

El humo de los incendios forestales es peligroso para todo el mundo, y no hay que dar detalles a su empleador cuando usted tome un día de enfermedad. Por ejemplo, es suficiente decir a su empleador que usted está tomando un día de enfermedad porque tiene tos, jaqueca, u otro síntoma relacionado con exposición al humo. Como siempre, también se puede usar los días de enfermedad para cuidar a un familiar que está enfermo, y durante la emergencia de COVID se puede usar los días de enfermedad para cuidar a los niños si se cierra la escuela o guardería por orden de una autoridad sanitaria. 

La compañía para la que usted trabaja no está permitido pedirle una nota de un médico u otra forma de documentación hasta que usted tome 3 días de enfermedad pagado consecutivamente, y no pueden poner represalias contra usted por usar sus días de enfermedad. 

Si usted trabaja como trabajador de entregas independiente, también tiene el derecho de tomar los días pagados de enfermedad, y también puede tomar un día de enfermedad debido al humo. Más información aquí sobre su derecho de tomar horas pagadas de enfermedad.

Gig workers in Seattle win new protections

Gig workers are essential workers, bringing us the food and goods we’ve needed for the last six months. Workers with the PayUp campaign have been relentlessly speaking out about the need for essential protections, during the crisis and in the long run. And it’s working: gig workers in Seattle recently won first-in-the-nation hazard pay and sick leave ordinances.

Hazard Pay

Food gig delivery drivers are entitled to $2.50 in hazard pay for each restaurant or grocery delivery you make inside the Seattle city limits. Hazard pay must be listed separately on your pay report, and paid out on top of what you would otherwise be paid. The hazard pay requirement took effect on Friday July 26th at 8:30pm, and continues for as long as the city’s official coronavirus state of emergency is in effect.

Paid Sick Days

Gig delivery workers and Uber/Lyft drivers now have the right to take paid sick days. You’ll start off with a certain number of paid sick days based on how much you’ve worked back to October of last year, and you’ll continue to accrue paid sick days going forward at a rate of 1 day for every 30 days you work. When you take a paid sick day, you’ll get paid based on your average daily compensation, including tips. No doctor’s note or other documentation is required to take a sick day during the coronavirus pandemic. The sick days law took effect on Monday, July 13th.

Like all Seattle labor standards, these laws apply to work done within Seattle city limits. Help us enforce the law — use our hazard pay tracker to let us know what you’re seeing, app by app and job by job.

Fair Work Center launches Know Your Rights training series for airport workers

Do you work at SEA Airport? SeaTac Proposition 1 protects the rights of workers at most large airport, transportation, and hospitality businesses in SeaTac. Under Prop. 1 you have the right to:

  • The second-highest minimum wage in the country: $16.34 in 2020
  • Keep all the tips and service charges you earn 
  • Find out first about additional hours, before new part-time workers are hired
  • Paid sick and safe time 
  • Also, under state law you have the right to paid family leave & meal and rest breaks for every shift you work. 

Alongside Partner in Employment, Fair Work Center has launched a series of Know Your Rights trainings for airport workers. These workers are facing layoffs, reduced hours, and an unpredictable future as a result of the pandemic crisis — which is why it’s more important than ever to enforce Prop. 1 labor standards. We are offering these trainings in English and in Somali to reach African immigrant workers, while PIE is providing these trainings in French, Swahili and Spanish. We will make sure to provide trainings in other languages as needed.

For more information and to sign up for this free training series, visit our SEA Airport Workers page.

Unprecedented challenges, powerful victories



This year has laid bare the stark inequalities in our society. Six months into the pandemic crisis, workers face unprecedented challenges: many workers are taking on additional risk at work, and employers are often failing to enact appropriate safety measures. The Senate has so far failed to provide adequate relief money, choosing to make it harder for us to pay our bills and survive this crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Washington workers are still unemployed and navigating a system full of delays and missing benefits payments. Meanwhile, wage theft and other workplace violations are spiking — and those violations are disproportionately impacting workers of color. 


Yet, in the face of these historic challenges, workers are coming together in powerful ways. A coalition of undocumented immigrants and community organizations just won a relief fund for undocumented immigrants. Gig workers in Seattle recently won sick leave and hazard pay ordinances, building momentum in the fight for a permanent pay standard. And Fair Work Center is still providing legal services and offering Know Your Rights workshops, which have shifted to virtual online events in order to reach workers remotely.


With Labor Day this week, we celebrate the powerful victories achieved when workers come together. Click on the stories below to learn more about how Fair Work Center is supporting worker organizing during these challenging times:

Washington State creates a relief fund for undocumented immigrant workers

Fair Work Center launches Know Your Rights training series for airport workers 

Gig workers in Seattle win new protections

Washington State is stepping up to provide relief for undocumented workers


Para leer esta noticia en español, haga clic aquí.

Congress and the Trump administration have intentionally excluded undocumented immigrants from all federal pandemic support—but Washington state is finally stepping up to provide undocumented workers with financial relief. 

After months of relentless organizing by undocumented workers and a broad coalition of 430 organizations, we’re celebrating a hard-fought win: Governor Inslee just announced $40 million in direct relief for undocumented workers. The newly-created Washington Worker Relief Fund will provide one-time cash assistance of up to $1000/person. With this fund, Washington joins California and Oregon as the only states to provide relief to undocumented workers. 

It’s about time. The Washington Worker Relief Fund will put much-needed money into the hands of thousands of undocumented workers, who haven’t seen any government relief since the pandemic took hold in March. 

Applications for individuals to receive funding are not yet open. There will be a separate sign-up process this fall to apply for funding. The Governor’s office is currently working to identify a community organization that will receive the funds and ensure that the money is equitably distributed to those who need it most. Click here to receive updates about the fund and the application process once it opens.


“The least we can do is create this worker relief fund, but it’s not the last thing we should do.” — WA State Senator & Fair Work Center board member Rebecca Saldaña  


The fund will provide cash assistance for thousands of immigrant families, but the $40 million commitment isn’t enough to meet the actual need. Washington is home to more than 270,000 undocumented workers, and they’ve been excluded from hundreds of millions of dollars in economic relief during the pandemic so far, including the $1,200 stimulus checks that went out in April and the $600 additional unemployment benefits that most workers received. 

Despite the fact that undocumented workers are overrepresented in the some of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic — like restaurants and hospitality — many are still facing a complete loss of income. Without any income support, many workers are left with no choice but to seek out some kind of work, despite being high-risk themselves or having family members who are high-risk — that’s a problem when it comes to controlling the spread of the virus and protecting the public health. To tackle this public health crisis effectively, all workers must have economic security.  

But at its current size, the Worker Relief Fund simply won’t get emergency relief to everyone who needs it. That’s why, from the start, our coalition has been calling for at least $100 million — and it’s why we’ll continue to fight to make sure the state invests another $60 million into the fund. 

Federal rules continue to bar undocumented workers from accessing unemployment insurance. These new one-time payments aren’t enough for any unemployed worker to weather this massive economic crisis. We need the Governor and the state legislature to step up and create a permanent income support system for undocumented workers.

We’ll be keeping the pressure on our elected officials and continuing to push the state to invest in a strong safety net for everyone, regardless of immigration status: all workers should have economic security, especially during times of crisis.

Supporting workers during this crisis

It’s a time of unparalleled crisis for workers across Washington and across the country. Since the pandemic took hold back in March, Fair Work Center has supported workers organizing for health, safety, and justice. Fruit packing house workers in Yakima are standing up for their health and calling out longstanding abuses in the workplace. Hundreds of thousands of workers in Washington State are unemployed or facing dangerous work conditions, and many are struggling to pay bills and feed their families. Amidst it all, millions of people across the nation are joining in the transformative movement for Black lives, raising their voices in support of a sweeping vision for racial and economic justice.

Read on to learn about the ways that Fair Work Center is supporting workers during this crisis: 

Yakima workers strike for safety and health

“As workers, we all have rights and we should assert our rights, because if we don’t assert them ourselves, the employers aren’t going to respect them…I’ll stay on strike until they give us a good response. I’ll stay here until they tell us that they’ll give us a wage increase, until they say that they won’t retaliate against us, that they won’t humiliate us – all of that.”  

– Striking Yakima worker

“I don’t see how they’re protecting our health. I’m one of the many who was infected with the coronavirus….I let my immediate supervisors know once I knew I was sick with the virus. But they never told any of my coworkers that I was even sick, that they had been exposed.” 

– Striking Yakima worker


More than one hundred workers at the Allan Bros fruit packing house walked out on strike in May after 14 co-workers tested positive for COVID-19 and the company didn’t take the appropriate steps to keep people safe. Their call for hazard pay and COVID safety protections quickly spread across the Yakima Valley, with more than 1000 workers joining picket lines at seven different packing houses. 

These workers took action together to address unsafe working conditions and years of abuse. Click to hear from workers in their own words about the dangerous conditions that led them to walk off the job.

A coalition of community organizations – including Familias Unidas, Community to Community Development, Washington State Labor Council, Columbia Legal Services, and Fair Work Center – quickly coalesced to support workers’ calls for a safe and healthy workplace. Fair Work Center supported workers in filing more than 180 health and safety complaints with the Department of Labor & Industries and provided know-your-rights trainings on the strike lines.

It’s been decades since a strike wave like this shook our state. Workers ended their strikes after managers at several warehouses negotiated directly with workers, with many companies promising to improve safety conditions. Unfortunately, many workers aren’t seeing the agreed-upon changes and are facing retaliation from management. That’s why some workers are now organizing to form an independent labor union to permanently increase their power in the workplace, raise pay, and address safety issues in the packing houses.

Fair Work Center is partnering with some of the workers who led the strikes to create a promotora program, which will train workers to facilitate health and safety workshops for their coworkers. This means that more workers will be able to identify violations of their rights, take collective action, and get connected with legal assistance during this time of crisis. 

Know Your Rights during the coronavirus crisis

Workers across Washington are facing severe impacts of the coronavirus crisis: layoffs, hours cut, issues with sick pay and childcare, and hazards on the job. Fair Work Center & Working Washington have created a guide to help you navigate your rights and the benefits you can access.

 The guide includes information about your rights and benefits under pre-existing WA laws, and new rights and benefits that are available due to emergency measures. The page is updated frequently as we learn of new emergency measures and programs.

Visit the page to learn more about your rights during this crisis.

In solidarity with the movement for Black Lives

Our organization stands in solidarity with the movement for Black lives and the powerful protests in Seattle, across Washington, and all across the country. We join the call for dignity and justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, James Scurlock, David McAtee, Charleena Lyles, and the thousands of other Black lives taken by police officers and white supremacist violence. 

We know that there is no worker justice without racial justice. Workers’ rights organizations like ours must prioritize and raise up the issues faced by Black workers in and out of work. Many of our community members are directly impacted by racism and police violence, and our movement must support Black organizers who are on the ground fighting for justice. 

Read our full statement.

Hear from striking Yakima workers

More than one hundred workers at the Allan Bros fruit packing house walked out on strike in May after 14 co-workers tested positive for COVID-19 and the company didn’t take the appropriate steps to keep people safe. Their call for hazard pay and COVID safety protections quickly spread across the Yakima Valley, with more than 1000 workers joining picket lines at seven different packing houses.

Read what two Yakima workers had to say about the dangerous conditions that led them to walk off the job:



“My coworkers and I went on strike due to the hazards we’re facing at work because of the coronavirus. We have very little safety right now inside the plant. We’re not given the proper equipment to protect ourselves or our families when we go home. 

I don’t see how they’re protecting our health. I’m one of the many who was infected with the coronavirus. Some of my coworkers have two year olds, elderly people they take care of, and I wanted to be considerate of others and protect them as well. I let my immediate supervisors know once I knew I was sick with the virus. But they never told any of my coworkers that I was even sick, that they had been exposed. Nothing whatsoever, even though I gave management permission to use my name so that my coworkers could be made aware of the hazard they were put in.

I have a coworker who was removed from her job area when she complained she was sick. Immediately they put someone else there to continue her  job duties, without disinfecting the area or letting anybody else know that she might have the virus. The company does not pay you when you get sick, therefore there are people that will not report that they’re sick — and will come to work sick — because they know they’re not gonna get paid for the time they miss. 

This is something that we endure every single day. Now that the virus has become hazardous to our health, we don’t get consideration from the company. Not even just to give workers a little heads up if we’ve been exposed, so we can go home and protect our family. We’re expected to just come to work — and if you get sick, you get sick.

When I started here working at Allan Bros. back in October, I was never really trained for the job. They had the understanding that I was just gonna start working and understand the process of how it’s done. 

My job is stressful. Due to the rapid flow of the apples, at times we don’t get breaks to go to the restroom or to drink water, which is really hard on our health. There are people who have fainted while they’re packing because of the rapid work environment. There’s a particular machine that gives us a lot of back-ache and knee pain. This is a machine that’s run at such a fast pace that really it’s not friendly to humans. It’s friendly to productivity. 

They expect you to grab three or four apples at a time. Sometimes, we can’t feel our arms, we can’t feel our fingers, we can’t feel our knees. If you don’t work at this fast pace, they call attention to you. You can get in trouble for not working fast enough. 

We have tried to address these concerns with our supervisors. The machines are causing us long-term injuries, but when we report any injuries, we’re told that it’s arthritis. Some of my coworkers have had injuries for years, because of the rapid workflow that we endure during our ten-hour shifts.

I don’t see how they’re protecting us or our families. We don’t want to fear that our employer is going to retaliate against us because we speak out. When the visitors come in for inspections, they run the machines slower. When they leave, those machines run so fast that the apples go on the floor. 

I am afraid to go back to Allan Brothers. I already got sick once. I don’t see them taking any necessary measures to protect us, and I don’t trust the safety measures they’ve taken so far. I hope that with us speaking up, I hope everybody understands where we’re coming from. It’s not just a money issue. It’s our health. It’s our family. It’s everybody’s well-being, not just ours.”


“I started working for Allan Bros. in 2006, so it’s been about 14 years, each one of them earning minimum pay. I earn $13.50 now. I’ve always earned the minimum wage the entire time I’ve worked here. 

I went on strike because there’s a lot of discrimination at Allan Bros. If we don’t do this, it’ll never stop inside. 

At Allan Brothers, they don’t want employees who have work restrictions. They told me that if you don’t have a paper that documents medical restrictions, they can put you to work where they want. And the instant you bring a note, they’ll send you home. If you’re sent home, they don’t pay you, and people have to pay their bills.

I injured my hip while at work back in May 2018, so I’ve been working injured for the past two years. They make me do all the work as though I’m in good health, even though I told my floor supervisor that I couldn’t complete this work. One time she almost made me cry. I told her that I couldn’t do packing, because it hurts so much to bend and turn. She just told me to “keep packing.” 

This treatment is humiliation. She didn’t care about my situation. This doesn’t seem like fair treatment to me. It’s painful for me to work the bag machines. You have to quickly grab five bags, and keep turning and turning, which causes me even more pain. I push through the pain with pills and everything, but I have to continue working like this because it’s a necessity. 

I don’t think that Allan Bros. has given supervisors training in how to treat other people. They need to give the floor supervisors classes in how to treat employees with respect. I think they should be taught how to ask, “Would you help me, please?” They don’t do that.

As workers, we all have rights and we should assert our rights, because if we don’t assert them ourselves, the employers aren’t going to respect them. We have to do it ourselves. 

For me, I’ll stay on strike until they give us a good response. I’ll stay here until they tell us that they’ll give us a wage increase, until they say that they won’t retaliate against us, that they won’t humiliate us — all of that. And until there’s better safety measures. Everything they now have inside the plant, in terms of safety, they have because of all of us who went on strike. There weren’t masks, they didn’t have any kind of protection. The workers inside are already benefiting from the things that we’ve done.”

Fair Work News – April 2019

APRIL 2019

Pay day for Jorge

Jorge was something of a jack of all trades at the popular restaurant in Shoreline where he’s worked for years. He worked a number of roles in the kitchen and helped out as a server in the dining room when needed. Jorge was not paid properly. His employer would pay him irregularly and only when asked. And he was never paid all that he was owed – it was always just enough to survive, enough to pay rent or buy groceries when needed. To make matters worse, the temporary owner kept incomplete and inaccurate records of his hours, so Jorge wasn’t getting any paystubs to document his hours or the full degree of wage theft he was experiencing.

Working with the Fair Work Legal Clinic, Jorge recreated over a year’s worth of his work calendar and calculated that he was owed more than $22,000. We worked with him to develop a demand letter that we sent to his employer. After Jorge received no response, we helped him file a wage theft claim with the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Throughout the investigation, we supported Jorge in navigating the process with L&I and responding to their inquiries and requests for additional information. L&I recently sided with Jorge and sent their own letter to the temporary employer demanding he pay Jorge the $22,000 he’s owed.

Shady scheduling and discrimination on display at the mall

Belle, who works at a jewelry store at a mall in Seattle, first contacted Fair Work Center after experiencing frequent disruptions in her work schedule. In addition, she felt that her employer’s treatment towards her was drastically different than their treatment towards other employees. For example, while other employees were allowed to take breaks freely, Belle was required to get permission in advance. Belle never received any disciplinary actions from her employer and did not understand why she was subjected to this different treatment.

During Belle’s consultation, we discovered that Belle is the only elderly worker in that store; all other employees are in their 20s and 30s, including Belle’s supervisor.

As a salesperson part of her pay is through commission, but the nature of sales in the store are such that people often come in once, scope out what they want and come back later to make the purchase. Because Belle’s schedule was so unpredictable, she would not be able to let customers know when she might be in the store next. This meant that often another salesperson would get commission on the sale that she did the bulk of the work on.

We provided Belle information about our state laws regarding breaks and commission. We advised her that Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance requires large retail and food service employers with more than 500 employees globally to, among other things, post schedules two weeks in advance, or provide additional compensation to workers for last-minute changes to the schedule. If her employer meets its criteria, it would be in violation. In addition, we advised her to begin documenting her treatment at work in order for us to better assess her whether employer had violated age discrimination rules.

If we determine her employer is covered by Secure Scheduling, we will be able to take action that will not only fix Belle’s scheduling concerns but her coworkers’ too. We are also continuing to work with Belle to address concerns around age discrimination in a way that enables her to keep her job and, just as importantly, close more sales and receive more commissions.

When a hiring bonus isn’t a bonus for getting hired

Dudley worked as service technician for a small general contractor company. He mainly went to other small businesses to make repairs or perform other building services. The primary reason he took this job over others he was considering was because the company was offering a $1,500 hiring bonus for qualified candidates. In his interview, he asked about the hiring bonus and says he was told he would get it upon starting to work.

Unfortunately, he ended up being terminated two months into the job but never received his hiring bonus. He came to Fair Work Center looking for help getting bonus he was promised in his interview. We’re supporting Dudley in preparing to file a claim in small claims court where a judge will decide if an employer can be held accountable to a verbal agreement made in an interview.

Because the law around how hiring bonuses work is a little murky, there are likely many other workers in the situation of feeling like they are owed an advertised hiring bonus only to never receive it upon taking the job. We know it is common for employers to promise one thing to their workers and do another, so we will be fighting hard to help Dudley get his bonus.

Three strikes don’t make this dismissal right

Juanita worked at a nonprofit organization in Seattle from 2008 until very recently. Until early last year, she never had any sort of disciplinary or performance issues with management and was considered an integral part of the team. In fact, Juanita was someone a lot of people in the office came to for questions or support when they needed help.

Last year, her longtime supervisor was terminated and replaced by a new, younger supervisor. Juanita is older than most of her coworkers, and she noticed that her employer was moving towards hiring younger workers. She started to feel like she was being pushed out by her new supervisor, both in how she was being treated day to day and also in the trivial things she was being disciplined for by her supervisor. The first time she was written up it was because she spent six minutes in the copy room when her supervisor said it should only take two minutes. The second time she received a notice saying she was taking excessive bathroom breaks. She became suspicious of her supervisor’s actions and even noticed a few of her newer coworkers following her around the office and timing her breaks. Juanita believes her supervisor directed those coworkers to pay close attention to her activities. It was at that point she first came to Fair Work Center for legal consultation.

The final straw that led to her termination came one day when the office was closing and a client showed up in a state of emergency seeking services. Because she was committed to providing services to people in need, she stayed an extra hour to counsel the client. Company policy is that workers must get advance approval for overtime hours, so, after two trivial strikes already against her, she was written up again for her third strike for taking an unapproved overtime hour and terminated. She feels it was retaliation by her supervisor, who was just waiting to find a reason to let her go.

Juanita first tried going through the internal HR complaint processes twice, but HR sided with management both times. So when she was officially terminated she said she was going back to Fair Work Center to seek legal counsel. At that point, her employer offered her a severance package. We supported Juanita in preparing for the severance negotiation with HR and management, which resulted in her getting the payout she was looking for.

A balancing act: standing up for herself & keeping her job

Gabriela is a Mexican immigrant who works at a Mexican restaurant. She contacted Fair Work Center after a cook, who she did not get along with, put an extremely hot pepper in her salad without her knowing. She raised this issue with her supervisor but no action was taken; the cook was not warned, disciplined, or otherwise put on notice of his behavior. So she took it up to a higher level of management and asked for their help. Gabriela was then written up by her immediate supervisor for going over his head to management, even though her immediate supervisor ignored her complaints.

Gabriela had been working at that restaurant for more than 10 years. And in that time, Gabriela’s schedule remained relatively consistent. Yet as soon as she started to raise concerns over her coworker’s aggression towards her, her schedule changed drastically. Not only were her work hours reduced, but she was scheduled to work “clopening” shifts, where she was required to close one day and open the next. She feared she would soon lose her job entirely.

She was referred to Fair Work Center by one of our community partners, and we provided Gabriela about her workplace rights and advised Gabriela about retaliation. We also discussed ways for her to effectively address her concerns with her employer. Gabriela left the clinic feeling empowered to talk to her employer to address the retaliation and to request that her schedule return to what it previously was. After speaking with her employer, she got her old schedule back. In addition, the problematic cook was transferred to work at another location. Gabriela felt relieved to no longer be working with that cook but still had concerns about her personal safety, given the cook’s strong dislike of her. We provided her with information and resources on how to file for a protection order.

Putting tips back on top

Working WA, our sibling organization, has been organizing gig workers (i.e., people who work for app-based companies like Postmates, Instacart, and Doordash) for the past couple of years. Last fall, Mia, a worker on the grocery delivery app Instacart and leader on Working WA’s gig economy campaign, raised the alarm about major pay cuts on Instacart. She and her coworkers were getting paid 30-40% less for each job, the company was using a black-box algorithm to set pay. And what’s more, they were taking customers’ tips instead of passing them on to workers.

When a customer tips, it is generally understood as extra money for the service provided by the worker. But Instacart was just paying the worker less and pocketing the tip. Here’s how it worked. An Instacart shopper might agreed to take a job that promised $10. The customer who made the order agreed to a $5 tip for the work. But instead of that worker getting $15, Instacart used the tip to subsidize the amount they paid the worker for the job.

Working WA started a petition demanding better pay, no more tip theft, and a more transparent pay system for Instacart’s workers. In a few short weeks it was signed by more than 3,500 gig workers and customers outraged by Instacart’s shady pay practices. Workers and customers were standing up and speaking out, and the media took notice. Bloomberg News did a piece on the petition, which generated even greater attention to the petition and generated even more news stories and social media outrage among gig workers and customers alike.

The tremendous weight of public outrage in combination with the power of gig worker’s organizing forced Instacart to put tips back on top of pay. But the change Instacart made wasn’t enough – they’re still paying workers too little and their pay stubs are still a mystery. And these problems aren’t limited to Instacart workers. Gig workers on all apps are facing low pay and lack of transparency. So they are continuing to organize and a national campaign called  #PayUp to demand $15 plus expenses for each hour they work, tips on top, and pay transparency.

Are your rights at work being violated? For a free consultation, contact us today online or by phone: 1-844-485-1195.

Fair Work News – February2019

February 2019

Catering company forced to take racism off the menu

Jane was a line cook for a catering company that provides food service to colleges. Jane loved her job, the interaction with the students especially. And she was good at it, churning out all of the food that came from the grill. The Executive Chef however made it impossible for her to stay there with unrelenting racially-motivated comments. Jane did everything she could, informing her superiors and human resources, but it didn’t stop. Jane stayed another three months, but eventually she found it too difficult.

We filed a charge of discrimination and a suit to recover wages, and met with the employer at mediation. There, the employer agreed to pay our client to compensate for the trauma caused by their employee and, importantly, agreed to change their policies and provide enhanced training to supervisors and staff.

Though she has a culinary degree, Jane had left cooking after this experience. With the damages recovered from the company, and she dreams of opening her own restaurant.


Wage theft at Emerald City Fence

Dan learned about Fair Work Center from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) after attempting to make a complaint about his former employer, Emerald City Fence, a statewide fencing company. This company had a practice of deducting an hour of time from each employee’s pay, regardless of how many unpaid or paid rest and meal breaks the employee took. Because all employees at the company were victims of this wage theft, L&I recommended that Dan talk to Fair Work Center to see if he could make a claim for all his co-workers.

We immediately recognized the magnitude of the problem and agreed to work with Dan and his coworkers. Working with Breskin Johnson & Townsend, a local plaintiff’s employment firm and longtime supporter of Fair Work Center, we recently filed a class action case against Emerald City Fence.


404 error – paychecks not found

Jenna worked for a small tech start-up company. She enjoyed the work, but she started noticing issues with the company’s funding. At first, Jenna was patient with her delayed paychecks because she understood funding for a start-up is not always steady. However, the issue quickly escalated from receiving her paychecks late to not receiving compensation for months at a time. Eventually, Jenna’s employer failed to pay her for 12 pay periods for a total of $19,963.69.

This is when she came to Fair Work Center where we are currently supporting her in pursuing a wage complaint through L&I.


If your employer is training you, they should be paying you

Said worked as a driver for a transit company. He was required to do 120 hours of training and promised pay at his hourly rate.

Said came to the Fair Work Center after the employer failed to provide him any pay for the training. We provided Said with information about his rights and walked him through his options. Said decided on a small claims lawsuit. When his employer caught wind of it, the employer sent him a check for half the amount owed, promising the rest soon. Said thought about delaying his filing but, when the check bounced, he realized that he should keep going.

With our support, Said’s small claims case is underway in King County District Court.


Are your rights at work being violated?  For a free consultation, contact us today online or by phone: 1-844-485-1195.

Fair Work News – December 2018

Fair Work Center is a hub for workers to understand and exercise their rights on the job. This edition of Fair Work News brings you stories of what justice on the job looks like for workers who were victims of wage theft, discrimination and more. Read on to learn how the Fair Work Legal Clinic is recovering workers’ stolen wages and helping enforce laws like Seattle’s Public Accommodations Ordinance and Hotel Employee Health & Safety Initiative.

The Queen Mary Tea Room gets on board

Coleman worked as a server at the Queen Mary Tea Room in North Seattle. Coleman, who is non-binary, noticed that the Tea Room maintained gender-exclusive bathrooms, with “ladies” and “gentlemen” written on the outside of each door. Indeed, the tea room had been cited by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights several times for violation of Seattle’s Public Accommodations Ordinance, which, among other things, requires all single-occupant restrooms to be gender-neutral restrooms. After each citation, the owner took down the signs, but moved them from the outside to the inside of the door or replaced them with pink and blue ribbons. Coleman raised this concern with the management, but nothing was done. Soon after, Coleman was terminated. Fair Work Center filed suit on Coleman’s behalf and negotiated a settlement by which the Queen Mary Tea Room compensated Coleman, agreed to change its practice and hosted a staff training on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by LGBTQ Allyship, one of our collaborative partners.

Wage theft at a residential construction company

Martin served as a foreman at a residential construction company. Most of the workers on his crew primarily spoke Spanish, and because Martin was more fluent in English, he served as a communicator with the employer to determine and secure payments for the jobs his crew worked. These contracts between the workers and the employer were oral and based in trust that both sides would uphold their end of the deal. This trust was broken when the employer refused to pay Martin and his peers for their work.

Unfamiliar with the law and unaware of any legal recourse available to him and his coworkers, Martin came to Fair Work Center worried that he would not be able to secure payment for their work. This money was essential to their livelihood. We assisted Martin in preparing a demand letter and filing his case in small claims court. The week before his scheduled court hearing in September, the employer paid Martin and his coworkers everything they were owed. Just as we are certain that Martin will continue to stand up for his fellow workers with the information he learned from visiting Fair Work Center, we are certain that his former employer will think twice before trying to exploit its employees again.

Local Montessori school learns a lesson

Leslie has been a teacher for most of her career. Recently, she took a job as an assistant teacher at a Montessori school in King County. She initially contacted Fair Work Center with questions about her employee handbook. Specifically, she wanted to know if she was entitled to receive pay for a week-long vacation. While looking through her paychecks, we discovered inconsistencies with nearly every one. She worked for the Montessori school for several months, but only one of her paychecks in that time was accurate. We calculated a total of 84.5 hours of missing wages, equivalent to nearly $2,500. We helped Leslie file a case in small claims court this fall, and we will be supporting her throughout the process.

Cleaning up

An undocumented immigrant looking for work, Beatriz was excited to take a job cleaning apartments in an affluent Bellevue neighborhood. Soon after she was hired, her employer doubled the number of apartments she needed to clean each day, regardless of how long it took. Beatriz tried but quickly found it was impossible to complete her duties without working a 12-hour shift, something she could not do as a mother with children at home.

When she tried speaking up about her workload and asking for a raise to compensate for the extra work, her employer cut off communication and disappeared without ever paying her for the days she already worked. Unsure of her rights and concerned about retaliation from the employer with regard to her immigration status, Beatriz came to Fair Work Center to learn what protections she had and how she could get paid. After discussing her options, we assisted Beatriz in gathering evidence and filing a complaint with L&I. Two weeks later, L&I informed her that her complaint was processed, and she would be paid the $602 in wages she was owed.

Delivering justice for delivery driver

Yakub first came to Fair Work Center in 2017. As a delivery driver for a small company that contracts with Amazon and others, Yakub started his day bright and early and worked long hours, but he enjoyed his work. Unfortunately, trouble struck soon after he started. He received a ticket because his employer’s van did not have proof of insurance. Instead of paying for the ticket or working with Yakub, the employer tried to put the responsibility on him. In addition, the employer refused to pay him his final paycheck of more than $1,000. We helped Yakub assess different options for getting paid and assisted him in filing his case in small claims court.

He returned recently, almost a year later, with great news – he received a small claims judgment for almost $2,000! The payment covered his final paycheck, the ticket, and associated filing fees. But he also had some bad news. The employer was refusing to pay him and he had no idea how to get his money. By researching the different methods of collecting on a judgment, we helped prepare and file a writ of garnishment against the employer, thereby allowing him to collect the money he was owed.

Hotel worker stands up for health & safety

Lucie is a housekeeper at a hotel in Seattle. Her employer failed to comply with the Hotel Employee Health and Safety Initiative, which limits the amount of cleaning work hotel workers can be required to do in a shift. Not surprisingly, she was injured as the result and asked for light duty while she recovered. The hotel refused her request and, instead, fired her.

Lucie came to Fair Work Center distraught having lost her income, health insurance, and the ability to pay her mounting medical bills. We recognized that Lucie’s immediate medical needs could be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, so we assisted Lucie in filing her claim with the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). We also connected Lucie with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights to make a complaint of disability discrimination for the hotel’s failure to accommodate her disability and termination. Finally, we connected Lucie with advocates for hotel workers, and we will continue assisting her as needed in addressing the hotel’s ongoing violations of the initiative.

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