Council passes Mayor Murray’s proposal for stronger, streamlined Seattle labor laws
SEATTLE -Seattle City Council passed Mayor Murray’s legislation to strengthen Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards ability to enforce minimum wage and other workplace standards. The legislation better protects workers, while leveling the playing field for business that are already in compliance by deterring and penalizing bad-actor employers.
“This legislation strengthens Seattle’s ground-breaking labor laws to ensure they are enforced fairly and that all workers receive the wages they earned,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “I would like to thank the City Council for passing this ordinance which will better protect our workers, take meaningful actions against bad actors and assist businesses that are currently doing the right thing by paying their employees their full paycheck.”
The ordinance harmonizes enforcement procedures, remedies key definitions in the Minimum Wage, Administrative Wage Theft, Paid Sick and Safe Time, and Job Assistance (now called “Fair Chance”) ordinances. The ordinance provides workers with a private right of action to pursue labor standards claims in court, increases recovery for workers by permitting up to three times the amount owed, and strengthens the Office of Labor Standard’s (OLS) ability to identify businesses that are failing to comply with labor standards requirements, such as paying below the City’s minimum wage. It also grants OLS with flexibility in determining penalties to address intentional noncompliance but also ensures that genuine mistakes by employers are not unduly punished.
“A workplace where everyone succeeds is our goal,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “Seattle is home to over 500,000 workers and almost 60,000 businesses so we must listen to the voice of both the worker and the employer to ensure we have a thriving, equitable, and safe worker and business ecosystem.”
A detailed chart of the changes contained in the ordinance can be found HERE.
In September of this year, Murray and OLS announced $1 million in grants for community organizations to provide outreach, education and technical assistance to Seattle’s workers about their rights under Seattle’s labor standards ordinances. Additionally, OLS will issue a RFP in early 2016 for $275,000 to help with business education and outreach focusing on small and immigrant owned businesses.
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