Baristas, a local bikini coffee chain, that has a Shoreline location, has agreed to hand over $85,000 in back wages, penalties and damages, according to KIRO-TV.
Baristas Coffee Company reached a settlement the U.S. Department of Labor and 45 current and former employees will get their money after accusations of exploitation.
The current and former employees of Baristas Coffee Company, also known as Pangea Networks Inc, will get $50,000 in back wages and $25,000 in damages. Baristas will also pay a civil fine of $10,000 in penalties, KIRO reported.
"The firm failed to make payroll. They issued checks that were non-sufficient funds. They issued to some of these baristas photo copies of paychecks, simply a photocopy, and said, 'We don't have any money. You'll need to come back to work and take money out of the till,'" Donna Hart of the U.S. Department of Labor told KIRO.
Last September, the U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit to recover back wages and damages for employees of Baristas after an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act at espresso stands in Auburn, Kent, SeaTac, Shoreline and Tacoma.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against two Nevada-based corporations doing business as Baristas Coffee Co.: Baristas Coffee Co. Inc., with Washington headquarters in Kent, and Pangea Networks Inc., headquartered in SeaTac. The complaint named Barry Henthorn, CEO of Baristas Coffee Co. Inc. and chairman of Pangea Networks, and T. Scott Steciw, president of both companies, as defendants.
Investigators found that employees were sometimes paid with checks that were unsigned or had insufficient funds, which resulted in workers 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. Investigators also found record-keeping violations of the FLSA.
“We believe that this employer owes back wages to its employees, and the department also will seek liquidated damages in an amount equal to the back wages,” said Hart, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Seattle District Office. “Low-wage workers have a legal right under the FLSA to be paid the minimum wage and properly compensated for overtime. Employers should know that, when employees are deprived of their rightful wages, the Labor Department will not hesitate to use all enforcement tools at its disposal, including litigation when appropriate.”
The department sought back wages and liquidated damages for workers dating back to August 2009. For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division’s Seattle office at 206-398-8039. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.