Like federal law, Washington law requires that employees be paid at one and one half times their normal rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in any given workweek of 168 hours (7 days). Those employees not covered by the state's minimum wage law are also not covered by the state's overtime provisions (see #2 below). In addition, the following employees who are covered by the state's minimum wage law are not covered by the state's overtime law:
Washington's minimum wage is $11.50 per hour, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The minimum wage is adjusted on January 1 of each year based on changes in the consumer price index. This minimum wage applies to all employees over 15; employees who are 14 or 15 may be paid 85% of the minimum wage ($9.76 per hour).
The following employees are not covered by the state's minimum wage requirement (which does not prevent them from being covered by the federal requirement):
Employers may apply for authorization to pay a sub-minimum wage of generally not less than 75 percent of the normal minimum wage to disabled workers, learners, student learners, apprentices, or student workers.
Tips may not be counted against the minimum wage. In other words, employers must pay their tipped employees $9.47 per hour, regardless of how much the employees make in tips. Meals and lodging also may not be credited against the minimum wage.
Unlike federal law, Washington law requires employers to provide rest breaks to employees. Workers must be allowed a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes for each 4 hours worked; that rest period must be allowed no later than the end of the third hour of the shift. If a worker works more than five hours in one shift, he or she must be allowed at least a 30-minute meal period; the meal period must take place at least two hours into the shift and no later than five hours after the beginning of the shift. The meal break does not have to be paid if the worker is free from all duties during the meal period. For more detailed information on breaks, visit http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Wages/HoursBreaks/Breaks/default.asp. Agricultural workers have similar break provisions. See http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Agriculture/Breaks/default.asp.
If your employer owes you wages, you can file a "Workplace Rights Complaint" form with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The form can be found at http://www.lni.wa.gov/forms/pdf/700027af.pdf. The Department will investigate your claim, attempt to help you get paid, and, if that is not successful, may file a lawsuit on your behalf to recover the money you are owed.
Do not delay in contacting the Department to file a complaint. There are strict time limits in which charges of wage-and-hour violations must be filed. The statute of limitations for cases regarding minimum wage, overtime, and oral contracts is three years (six years for written contracts), and the Department must investigate your claim and give notice to the employer. If you file your claim after the statute of limitations has run or just before it expires, the Department will be unable to assist you. As you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the district and federal administrative agencies.
If your employer has not paid you overtime wages or the minimum wage, you can bring a private lawsuit in court instead of filing a complaint with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry. The court may award you the wages you are owed and may require your employer to pay your litigation costs and attorneys' fees. The statue of limitations for such a claim is three years. If your employer owes you wages not in connection with overtime or the minimum wage, you can bring an action for breach of contract. If the contract was oral, the statute of limitations is three years; if it is written, the statute of limitations is six years. If you recover more than what your employer admits you are owed, the court will require your employer to pay your litigation costs and your attorneys' fees.
State Labor Agency
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
PO Box 44000
Olympia, WA 98504-4000
Phone: 1-800-547-8367 (main line)
Phone: 1-866-219-7321 (Employment standards/workplace rights)
Phone: (360) 902-5316 (Employment standards/workplace rights)
© 2018 Workplace Fairness