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U.S. Dept. of Labor orders Kent-based Baristas Coffee to pay $50,000 in back wages

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Baristas Coffee to pay back wages to employees. - COURTESY PHOTO
The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Baristas Coffee to pay back wages to employees.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment and order under which Kent-based 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., according to a Wednesday U.S. Department of Labor media release.

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 (FLSA).

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.

The Kent location is at 411 Washington Ave. N.

“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.

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