Seattle, WA (December 5, 2022) – The Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announces the second settlement in seven months with Trader Joe’s Company for alleged violations of Seattle labor laws.
Following an OLS inquiry, Trader Joe’s Company agreed to a settlement under the Grocery Employee Hazard Pay (GEHP) and Wage Theft Ordinances and $55,009.51 in settlement payments to resolve claims for back wages, interest, liquidated damages, and civil penalties, to 95 employees who worked overtime in Seattle.
OLS alleged Trader Joe's Company did not include hazard pay when determining an employee's regular rate of pay for the purposes of overtime (as required) between February 3, 2021, and September 2, 2022.
Instead, OLS alleged, employees at Trader Joe's Company were paid one and one-half times the base rate of pay in addition to $4.00 hazard pay per each overtime hour worked.
OLS initiated the first inquiry into alleged labor standards violations by Trader Joe’s Company at Store 137 in the University District. Trader Joe’s Company agreed to a settlement under the Secure Scheduling Ordinance and paid $44,528.22 to 129 employees and $575.31 to the City of Seattle to resolve claims for civil penalties and fines under Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance.
“After giving Trader Joe’s several internal opportunities to make this right, they chose not to. For a second time the OLS has stepped up and helped us find the solutions to the wrongs Trader Joe’s has made toward schedule ordinances and wage theft of mandated hazard pay,” said two current Trader Joe’s Company employees. “We want people to know what corporations are capable of doing and that the OLS can be trusted to support workers when they have exhausted all means within the management/corporate structure to find solutions.”
“The settlement is a reminder to us all that no company is above the law when it puts profit over people. Seeing the people, I worked so hard with during the pandemic finally get rewarded for their efforts is a weight lifted,” said Devin Riley, a former Trader Joe’s Company employee. “If one thinks something is off in the workplace, it is easy to make an anonymous inquiry to give you piece of mind. Every employee in Seattle should know that OLS should not be a last option, but a place to start with any concerns you might have. It's anonymous and the single greatest tool we have at our disposal,” Riley added.
Trader Joe’s Company is a grocery store chain with five stores and several hundred employees in Seattle and more than 500 stores and over 50,000 employees nationwide.
“The GEHP Ordinance, along with other emergency ordinances created during the pandemic to protect and provide much needed relief for front line workers are phasing out, but certain requirements of the GEHP Ordinance still apply for up to three years. OLS will continue to help any worker who believes their rights may have been violated under this ordinance. Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help,” said OLS Director Steven Marchese.
The GEHP Ordinance went into effect on February 3, 2021. As of September 2, 2022, covered employers are longer required to pay the increased hazard pay under Seattle’s Grocery Employee Hazard Pay (GEHP) ordinance. On August 3, 2022, City Council voted to suspend the requirement for certain grocery businesses in Seattle to provide $4 per hour to their employees.
Beginning on September 2, 2022, the following requirements apply:
Notice of Rights: covered employers must provide a Notice of Rights for a period of one year until September 2, 2023.
Enforcement: Employees with complaints that their employer failed to pay hazard period between February 3, 2021, and September 2, 2022, can still contact the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) with their complaints for three years - until September 3, 2025. Please do not delay contacting the office to ensure you may exercise your rights under this ordinance. You can contact OLS by calling (206) 256-5297 or contact us online by filling out this form (click here).
Do not delay - contact OLS to ensure you may exercise your rights under this ordinance. Call (206) 256-5297 or contact us online by clicking here.