Below are some recent examples of cases in the Fair Work Legal Clinic:
Chunso was an employee of a popular restaurant in Seattle. Her employer retained 40% of her tips. Additionally, the employer failed to provide rest or meal breaks to its servers and to the back of the house workers. Chunso learned about her right to rest breaks from one of our trainings and then raised the issue with the restaurant. She also filed a charge with the Office of Labor Standards. The employer terminated her employment citing her “attitude.” In collaboration with OLS, the Clinic took the case and will be representing Chunso in a lawsuit against the employer. We have been able to identify other workers at the restaurant who will also be plaintiffs. We have also learned that this restaurant consistently employees undocumented workers in its kitchen with the promise of “sponsorship” on their application for work authorization. But that promise never materializes, even after years of sub-standard employment. We are working to connect with those back of house workers to provide immigration support as well as to let them know of their employment rights.
Ahmed, a Somali man who works for a hotel in Seattle, came in to the Legal Clinic after being injured on the job. After his first injury, he had requested a reasonable accommodation from the hotel, and his supervisor denied his requests and then made derogatory comments about his English. He also cut Ahmed’s hours. Ahmed tried to continue working without an accommodation but was injured two more times over the course of the following six weeks. The Legal Clinic helped Ahmed file a complaint with Seattle Office for Civil Rights, which is now investigating his case. In addition, the Legal Clinic helped him file a worker’s compensation complaint with Washington Department of Labor & Industries. The worker is now receiving pay for time lost while he is out of work recouperating.
Min worked as an educator at a childcare center in Seattle and came to Legal Clinic wanting to recover her last two weeks of pay. In speaking with Min, we quickly realized that she had been underpaid for the last year-and-a-half. We expect to resolve this with a demand letter to the employer.
Maria works at non-profit preschool as a teacher assistant in Seattle. She has preexisting medical conditions that requires her to take time off during shifts to go to doctor appointments. The lead teacher is very hostile to her, calling her names, making fun of her skin color, and physically accosting her on the school’s playground in front of the children. Her employer refused Maria’s request to reassign her to a different classroom away from her abusive lead teacher. The Fair Work Legal Clinic helped the worker file a complaint with Seattle Office for Civil Rights, which is now investigating the matter. We also connected Maria to an attorney who will be representing her without charge.
Ray works for a large property management company and is assigned to several apartment complexes in Seattle. He was paid a flat rate for 20 hours per week, regardless of his actual hours, and he got no meal or rest breaks. His employer failed to provide paid sick and safe leave time, and when Ray got sick and took time off, he was fired. The Legal Clinic will be representing Ray in legal action against his employer.
Roger is an African American man who worked at a marijuana retailer in Seattle as a floor supervisor. He was discriminatorily denied a promotion to manager so he contacted the Fair Work Legal Clinic. The Legal Clinic helped the worker file a complaint with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights. We quickly learned that many other workers had experienced similar discrimination on the job. In addition, we learned that the employer had implemented an invalid tipping policy, and several other workers had been threatened for bringing up the issue. We assisted the worker in filing a charge with Office of Labor Standards (OLS). Roger also mobilized other workers to talk with OLS. And within one week of his complaint, OLS sent a letter to his employer identifying all of the issues and requiring the company prove they are in full compliance with Seattle’s labor standards. The employer has one month to demonstrate compliance or OLS will initiate a full investigation.
Sue and Bob are a married couple who were both fired from their jobs at specialty foods and personal product manufacturer. Sue and Bob filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging a hostile work environment on account of their physical disabilities. They were denied reasonable accommodation for their disabilities and then were fired in retaliation for complaining about the discrimination. In May, we settled both Sue and Bob’s charges with their employer. With the assistance of a pro bono mediator, we reached a resolution whose terms included a monetary settlement and a staff-wide training on discrimination and reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities at the employer.