A Potent Pairing: Wine & Wage Theft at Tandem Wine & Cheese Bar

Tandem Wine and Cheese Bar was promoted as a chic, relaxed, farm-to-table restaurant, with an eclectic decor and an outdoor patio in the heart of Woodinville’s wineries. It opened in Woodinville in 2010 and operated for a decade until closing abruptly in June 2019. Tandem had its devoted regulars: “It was almost like Cheers with some customers,” says one former employee. But for staff, working there was another story.

In a complaint filed in King County Superior Court, five former Tandem workers describe a widespread and long standing pattern of wage theft at the restaurant. They allege that they are still waiting to receive thousands of dollars in unpaid wages more than a year after Tandem closed. Now, represented by Fair Work Center, these workers have come together to recover their unpaid wages and raise awareness about wage theft in the restaurant industry. 

Paychecks came at unpredictable intervals, were frequently short hundreds of dollars, and often bounced when employees attempted to cash them. When plaintiffs confronted Tandem about money missing from their checks, they were met with excuses and delays.

“Rampant wage theft in the restaurant industry is a well-known problem. Stories like our clients’ are all too common, and the pressure to stay employed often forces many workers to put up with violations of their rights,” said Danielle Alvarado, Legal Director at Fair Work Center. “This case will make sure these workers are paid, and it will send a message to employers across Washington: you will be held accountable if you’re choosing not to comply with our state’s wage theft laws.”

Missing tips and bounced paychecks

“It was exhausting to chase down paychecks because I was in school 7 days a week at the time — and then committing my time at Tandem on top of that to pay bills and help pay for school. It was money that I was really relying on. I was exhausted because I had to put in all this extra time and effort just to get paid.” —Savannah, plaintiff

The plaintiffs in this case knew they were not getting all their tips. Often, tips were totally missing from their paychecks. And even when tips were supposedly included, Tandem didn’t issue pay stubs. Without pay stubs, earnings and tips can be easily obscured, which is why Washington State requires employers to provide them to workers. 

Employees were forced to do their best to keep their own records to ensure they got paid all their wages. On top of that, employees were never sure when they could expect their next paycheck. State law requires employers to pay their employees at regular, predictable intervals, but that almost never happened at Tandem.

Savannah started working at Tandem as a server in 2018. Weeks went by, but she was never paid for her work. She asked for her paycheck and explained that without pay, she was struggling to pay her mounting bills. Instead of an explanation or a check, management stalled, offering only excuses. Left with little choice, Savannah was forced to take out a loan to pay her rent and college tuition bill. 

“It was so stressful when Tandem didn’t pay me. I had to take out this last-minute student loan, and it was a private loan with higher interest rates. I was desperate at the time — I hadn’t planned for that at all.”   —Savannah, plaintiff

When Tandem did distribute paychecks, workers report that checks often bounced at the bank. The checks were already weeks late, and the amounts were short hundreds of dollars. And now, when employees went to the bank to actually get their long-awaited money? The bank would tell them the check didn’t clear. They still weren’t getting paid. 

Tackling wage theft

Wage theft is all too common, especially in the restaurant industry, and studies show that it’s likely on the rise during this pandemic. It’s more urgent now than ever that workers have access to effective tools to get promptly back the money they’re owed.

Workers need more tools to hold their employers accountable when they’re not getting paid what they’re owed. That’s why Fair Work Center & Working Washington are working to pass the Washington Wage Recovery Act. 

The bill allows workers to put a temporary hold on known employer assets as soon as wage theft happens — the best possible time to secure those assets. Because rent, food, and car payments don’t take a holiday, workers can’t afford to wait years to recover their wages. The temporary hold on assets — also called a “lien” — has been used very effectively by unpaid or underpaid farmworkers and construction workers in Washington for years. It’s time that other workers be included in this effective solution to get paid. 

The Washington Wage Recovery Act would help workers experiencing wage theft get paid before their bills come due, so that they’re not forced to take their employer to court more than a year after their wages were stolen. 

Celebrando el primer grupo de Promotores de Salud & Seguridad en Yakima

Al principio de noviembre, 14 trabajadores fueron certificados como Promotores de Salud y Seguridad en Yakima, participantes en un programa de entrenamiento sobre los derechos laborales y la salud y seguridad en el trabajo. Estes trabajadores están creciendo su liderazgo y ayudando asegurar que todos los miembros de sus comunidades tengan el conocimiento que necesitan para enfrentar el maltrato en el trabajo.

El programa está diseñado para crear una red de trabajadores y líderes que entienden sus propios derechos, y quienes se convertirán en fuentes comunitarias para información sobre los derechos laborales.

“En mi experiencia trabajando aquí en el estado de Washington, he sido víctima de injusticias y al mismo tiempo al pasar del tiempo he oído comentarios de muchas personas las cuales pasan situaciones parecidas. Ahora me doy cuenta que muchas de esas injusticias fueron o han faltado a los derechos que tenemos como trabajadores. Esta es la mayor razón por la que decidí obtener conocimiento sobre mis derechos y compartir esto con las otras personas.

Conocer los derechos nos da un motivo de seguridad como trabajadores, porque sabes que ningún empleador te puede humillar o hacer sentir menos. Saber tus derechos y saber poner estos en práctica nos ayudará a ganar valores, respeto, y seguridad. Para mí, conocer tus derechos es como quitarte una venda de los ojos.”


“Mi motivación de participar en el programa surgió de un deseo de asegurar que tenemos condiciones de trabajo seguras para reducir el riesgo de contagio por COVID-19…

Es tan importante conocer y exigir nuestros derechos — nos enfrentamos a una realidad en donde los derechos de los trabajadores no sólo son respetados, sino que ni siquiera son reconocidos como tales por parte de las grandes compañías. Tenemos que impulsar y movilizar a los trabajadores para que respete, proteja y garantice los derechos laborales.”


A través del programa, que duró un mes, les participantes asistieron a dieciséis horas de talleres—siempre con el distanciamiento social y llevando tapabocas—para recibir la certificación. Aprendieron sobre el derecho de tener un lugar de trabajo saludable y seguro, sobre los leyes que protegen sus derechos laborales, y sobre las agencias con que une se puede poner una queja si su empleador viole los derechos.

Al terminar el programa, cada Promotor dará talleres de salud y seguridad con por lo menos cuatro otros trabajadores en su comunidad. Este modelo creará una amplia red de trabajadores quienes servirán como expertos y fuentes de información sobre los derechos laborales.

He aprendido mucho y he perdido el miedo de preguntar sobre mis derechos. Yo les digo a todos los trabajadores de Yakima y del estado que busquen aprender sobre sus derechos para que no tengan miedo de enfrentar cualquier problema que se nos atraviese y que sepan que siempre va a haber alguien que nos apoye porque no estamos solos y tenemos derechos. Yo me siento feliz y con más confianza en mí para no dejar que abusen y quiebren mis derechos como persona trabajadora.


Celebrating 14 New Health & Safety Promotores in Yakima

Haga clic aquí para leer esta noticia en español.  

Earlier this month, 14 workers in Yakima became the first group to complete Fair Work Center’s new Health and Safety Promotores training program. These workers are growing their leadership and helping to ensure everyone in their community has the knowledge they need to stand up to mistreatment at work.

The program is designed to create a network of worker-leaders who understand their rights, and who become trusted resources, sharing vital know-your-rights information in their own communities and workplaces.

“In my time working here in Washington state, I’ve been the victim of injustices, and I’ve heard from so many other workers who’ve also been treated poorly. I now realize that many of these injustices were violations of the rights we have as workers. That’s the main reason that I decided to learn more about my rights and share my knowledge with other workers.

Knowing your rights gives you a level of protection as a worker, because you know that no employer can humiliate you or make you feel small and powerless. Knowing your rights and knowing how to put them into practice helps all of us win respect and safety. For me, knowing my rights is like removing a blindfold from my eyes.”


“I was motivated to participate in this program because I believe workers need safe working conditions to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. It’s so important to understand and stand up for our rights at work. We’re facing a reality where our employers don’t respect our rights — some of the big companies don’t even recognize that we have rights at all. We have to motivate and mobilize our fellow workers so that our employers respect us, protect us, and guarantee our labor rights.”


Over the course of the month-long program, participants attended a total of sixteen hours of training—physically distanced and masked—in order to get their certification. Workers learned about their basic rights related to health and safety at work, about the state laws that protect their rights, and the agencies where they can file complaints if they believe those rights are being violated. 

Upon completing the program, each Promotor will give health and safety trainings to at least four other workers in their circles and communities. This model will create a wide network of worker-experts who serve as trusted sources of information about workers’ rights.

“I’ve learned a lot and I’m no longer afraid to ask questions about my rights when I’m at work. I’d say this to other workers in Yakima and across the state: learn about your rights so that you’re not afraid to confront whatever problem comes up where you work. And I’d also say that there will always be people who support us, because we’re not alone in this struggle. I feel happy and more confident in myself knowing that I’ll be able to make sure nobody violates my rights or tries to silence my voice.”


Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund applications are now open

Undocumented workers can now apply for financial relief from the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund

We’re over seven months into the COVID crisis, and undocumented workers in our state still haven’t seen any form of government relief — but that’s about to change. Today, undocumented workers can begin applying for the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund, which will provide long-overdue direct financial relief to undocumented immigrants who have been barred by federal rules from receiving stimulus checks and unemployment insurance.

ESPAÑOL: Haga clic aquí para leer esta noticia en español.

This new relief fund comes as the result of months of relentless organizing by a broad coalition of undocumented immigrants and more than 400 community organizations across our state. After sustained pressure from the coalition demanding emergency relief, Governor Inslee agreed to an initial commitment of $40 million in funding to provide direct cash assistance to undocumented immigrants, who have been excluded from federal relief programs and unemployment insurance.

Undocumented workers in Washington can now apply to receive a one-time direct payment of $1,000 (with a maximum of $3000 per household). Applications will close on December 6, 2020.

The Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund is managed by the same coalition of community organizations who called for its creation, not by the government. The only people with access to an applicant’s personal information are Scholarship Junkies (the community organization that manages the fund), Fair Work Center, and Seattle Credit Union (the organizations that distribute the money). This information will never be voluntarily shared with the police, the government, or ICE. Assistance from this fund is considered one-time disaster relief and should not be considered under the public charge rule — receiving money from this fund should not impact a person’s ability to get a green card. Eligible workers can complete the application online, over the phone, or by mail, and the application is available in multiple languages.

>>CLICK HERE to learn more about the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund and to apply.

This relief fund is an important step forward in addressing the glaring exclusion of undocumented workers from COVID relief efforts. Washington now joins California and Oregon as the only three states to provide financial support to undocumented workers during this crisis. 

But while the $40 million fund will put much-needed relief money into the hands of tens of thousands of immigrant workers across our state, it doesn’t come close to meeting the actual level of need in the community. More than 250,000 undocumented immigrants call our state home — and, from the start, the coalition has been calling for a commitment from the state of at least $100 million.

And we know that one-time cash assistance simply isn’t enough. All workers — regardless of immigration status, regardless of what kind of work they do, and regardless of where they live — need access to strong safety nets that guarantee economic security, especially during times of crisis. 

To make that a reality, the coalition is calling on the Governor and the state legislature to take action and create a permanent income support system for undocumented workers and others excluded from unemployment benefits, including many gig workers, domestic workers, and farmworkers.

The creation of the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund has shown that it’s possible to set up a statewide system that provides government emergency relief to undocumented workers. Now, we need our elected leaders to commit to designing and funding a permanent system. Immigrant workers are invited to share their thoughts about what that system should look like in this community survey, available in both English and Spanish.

Together, we’ll make sure that all workers in our state get the support and relief they need — during this crisis and beyond. 

Solicitudes Abren para el Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington

Las solicitudes ahora están abiertas para el Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington

Estamos en la séptima mes de la crisis de COVID, y los trabajadores indocumentados todavía no han recibido ninguna forma de alivio del gobierno — pero esto acaba de cambiar. A partir de hoy, los trabajadores indocumentados pueden presentar una solicitud al Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington, el cual dará ayuda económica a inmigrantes indocumentados que son son excluidos por las reglas federales de recibir los cheques de estímulo y los beneficios de desempleo.

Este nuevo fondo de ayuda es el resultado de una campaña larga y dura, que fue liderada por una amplia coalición de trabajadores indocumentados y más de 400 organizaciones comunitarias. Bajo una presión sostenida de la coalición para exigir una ayuda de emergencia para la comunidad, el Gobernador Inslee aprobó un fondo de $40 millones para proveer asistencia financiera directa a los inmigrantes indocumentados en nuestro estado, quienes son excluidos de los programas federales de alivio y también de los beneficios de desempleo. 

Los trabajadores indocumentados en Washington ahora pueden enviar una solicitud para recibir un pago único y directo de $1,000 por persona que califique (hasta $3,000 por hogar). Se puede enviar una solicitud hasta el 6 de diciembre.

El fondo es administrado por organizaciones comunitarias dirigidas por inmigrantes en Washington — las mismas personas que exigieron la creación de este fondo. Las únicas personas que tienen acceso a la información personal de un solicitante son Scholarship Junkies (la organización comunitaria que administra el fondo), Fair Work Center y Seattle Credit Union (que distribuye el dinero). No compartiremos su información con nadie más. La información personal nunca se compartirá en forma intencional con el gobierno, Inmigración y Control de Aduana (ICE), la policía, su arrendador, su empleador ni alguna otra persona. La regla de carga pública no aplica a esta ayuda. Recibir asistencia mediante este fondo no debería afectar su capacidad para obtener una visa o tarjeta de residencia. Trabajadores elegibles pueden enviar una solicitud en línea, por teléfono, o por servicio postal,  y la solicitud está disponible en varios idiomas. 

>>HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para aprender más sobre el Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington y para enviar una solicitud.

Este fondo de ayuda es un paso importante para abordar la exclusión de los trabajadores indocumentados en la respuesta del gobierno al COVID-19. El estado de Washington se une con los estados de Oregon y California como los únicos tres en los EEUU que están dando ayuda financiera a los inmigrantes indocumentados durante esta crisis. 

Pero a medida que celebramos $40 millones en ayuda, el trabajo no ha acabado, y se necesitará una financiación mayor para dar fondos a todos con necesidad. Más de 250,000 personas indocumentadas viven en el estado de Washington — y desde el principio, la coalición ha exigido $100 millones en asistencia del estado. El fondo como existe ahora no es suficiente.

Y sabemos que tampoco es suficiente dar una asistencia de una sola vez mientras los trabajadores enfrentan una crisis económica tan grave. Todos los trabajadores — sin importar su estatus migratorio, sin importar el tipo de trabajo que se hace, y sin importar donde se vive — necesitan acceso a una garantía social que asegura la seguridad económica, sobre todo en tiempos de crisis.

Para hacerlo una realidad, la coalición exige al Gobernador y a la legislatura estatal crear un sistema permanente de subsidio de ingresos para los trabajadores indocumentados y las otras personas que son excluidos de los beneficios de desempleo, incluyendo muchos contratistas independientes, personas que trabajan por su propia cuenta, y trabajadores de agricultura.   

La creación del Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington muestra que es posible diseñar e implementar un sistema estatal que provee una ayuda de emergencia a la comunidad indocumentada. Ahora, necesitamos que nuestros líderes se comprometan a crear un sistema permanente. Trabajadores inmigrantes están invitados a compartir sus opiniones sobre este propuesto sistema en esta encuesta comunitaria, disponible en español.

Juntos aseguramos que todos los trabajadores en nuestro estado reciben el apoyo y el alivio que necesitan — durante esta crisis y adelante.

DoorDash and Postmates agree to pay workers over $360K for violating Seattle hazard pay law


Seattle is making the gig economy pay up — this time, to the tune of $361,950. That’s how much DoorDash and Postmates agreed to pay workers for violations of Seattle’s first-in-the-nation hazard pay law, which requires large food and grocery delivery companies to pay workers an additional $2.50/delivery during the coronavirus emergency.

Gig companies like DoorDash and Postmates like to think they’re above the law, but the Seattle Office of Labor Standards just took action to hold them accountable. Workers filed complaints with OLS after noticing they weren’t seeing hazard pay correctly added to all their deliveries on the DoorDash and Postmates apps, which prompted an audit. OLS reached an agreement with the companies, compelling them to make workers whole by promptly providing back pay and interest.

Earlier this summer, gig workers in Seattle came together to win the right to hazard pay — and now, workers are standing up to make sure that this right is enforced.

Thousands of impacted drivers in Seattle received money they were owed as a result of this enforcement action. It’s the first-ever government labor standards enforcement action that actually moves money from gig company corporate bank accounts into gig workers’ pockets.

In addition to this $361,950 award, thousands of workers have been receiving their additional $2.50 in hazard pay for every delivery in Seattle since late June on DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Instacart, Shipt, and other food delivery platforms. Hazard pay for these essential workers will remain in effect for the length of the coronavirus pandemic.

Learn more about Seattle gig workers’ rights to hazard pay and sick leave here, and if you’re doing gig delivery work, let us know what you’re seeing, delivery-by-delivery, with our hazard pay tracker. Together, we can continue to hold gig companies accountable, protect our rights, and make sure gig workers get paid what they’re owed.

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