We're asking the Department of Labor & Industries to eliminate misleading minimum wage surcharges.

Misleading minimum wage surcharges could soon be a thing of the past. Working Washington has sent an official request to the State Department of Labor & Industries calling on the agency to establish rules that would effectively eliminate misleading surcharges which pose as taxes or claim to go towards wages.

We're asking L&I to clarify that:

  • Service charges can not pose as taxes or government-mandated fees.
  • Any surcharges that include the word “wage” or similar language are forbidden, because they will invariably be interpreted as intended to count towards employees’ wages, which would be illegal under state law.
  • Workers must be made whole for service charges which inappropriately were counted towards wage obligations, as this is effectively wage theft.

Sign on and add your name to our letter.

Paying the minimum wage is a basic cost of doing business, not an extra add-on to be counted separately. If there’s no line item for the rent and no napkin-laundering charge called out, then there’s no good reason to tack on an extra few percent and attribute it to the minimum wage — unless you're trying to send a political message about opposition to raising the wage, that is.

So for more than a year, we've collected examples of misleading minimum wage surcharges from across the state. We've asked businesses to eliminate these charges, we've gone to the press, we've published a list, and more. We've had success turning back many of these charges — but others are still out there.

So we're taking the next step: Working Washington has sent an official request to the State Department of Labor & Industries, calling on the agency to establish rules which would effectively eliminate misleading minimum wage surcharges in our state.

And now we're asking our supporters to sign on in support of our letter.

Our request is based on the clear language of Initiative 1433, which passed overwhelmingly in November 2016 and, in addition to raising the minimum wage and establishing paid sick time statewide, also provides that:

“Tips and service charges paid to an employee are in addition to, and may not count towards, the employee's hourly minimum wage.”

(You can read our complete letter to L&I here.)
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