Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Baristas Coffee will pay $75,000 in back wages and damages to workers in Washington state, plus $10,000 in penalties, resolving US Labor Department lawsuit
SEATTLE -- The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment and order under which Seattle-area Baristas Coffee Co. and company officers Barry Henthorn and T. Scott Steciw will pay 45 current and former employees a total of $50,000 in back wages and $25,000 in liquidated damages.
The judgment and order resolve a lawsuit filed by the department in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in September 2011 against the company, doing business as Baristas Coffee Co. Inc. and Pangea Networks Inc. The suit was filed after an investigation by the Seattle District Office of the department’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The division found that employees at espresso stands in Auburn, Kent, SeaTac, Shoreline and Tacoma sometimes were paid with checks which were not signed or had insufficient funds, resulting in employees being paid less than the federal minimum wage for all hours worked. In addition, employees were not paid proper overtime wages when they worked more than 40 hours in a week. The employer also failed to keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid.
“Many of these workers were denied their basic wages week after week,” said Donna Hart, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Seattle District Office. “The outcome of this case highlights the need to bring strong enforcement remedies to bear when employers violate the most basic wage laws.”
In addition to requiring the payment of the back wages owed along with damages, the order enjoins the defendants from violating the FLSA in the future and requires them to pay $10,000 in civil money penalties.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as one and one-half times their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
The case was litigated for the Labor Department by its Regional Office of the Solicitor in Seattle. For more information about the FLSA, contact the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Seattle office at 206-398-8039. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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