|Passed by the House February 10, 2010|
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Passed by the Senate March 4, 2010
President of the Senate
I, Barbara Baker, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 3145 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.
Governor of the State of Washington
Secretary of State
State of Washington
|State of Washington||61st Legislature||2010 Regular Session|
READ FIRST TIME 02/09/10.
AN ACT Relating to improving administration of wage complaints by defining the limitations period for administrative wage claims through the department of labor and industries, clarifying the requirements for the department to extend the time period for wage complaint investigations, revising the department's bond authority, tolling the civil statute of limitations, increasing minimum penalties for violators, creating and affecting waiver of penalties for repeat willful violators, and providing for wage law violation liability for successor businesses; amending RCW 49.48.082, 49.48.083, 49.48.084, 49.48.086, and 49.48.060; adding a new section to chapter 49.48 RCW; and prescribing penalties.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1 RCW 49.48.082 and 2006 c 89 s 1 are each amended to read
The definitions in this section apply throughout this section and RCW 49.48.083 through 49.48.086:
(1) "Citation" means a written determination by the department that a wage payment requirement has been violated.
(2) "Department" means the department of labor and industries.
(3) "Determination of compliance" means a written determination by the department that wage payment requirements have not been violated.
(4) "Director" means the director of the department of labor and industries, or the director's authorized representative.
(5) "Employee" has the meaning provided in: (a) RCW 49.46.010 for purposes of a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.46.020 or 49.46.130; and (b) RCW 49.12.005 for purposes of a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.48.010, 49.52.050, or 49.52.060.
(6) "Employer" has the meaning provided in RCW 49.46.010 for purposes of a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.46.020, 49.46.130, 49.48.010, 49.52.050, or 49.52.060.
(7) "Notice of assessment" means a written notice by the department that, based on a citation, the employer shall pay the amounts assessed under RCW 49.48.083.
(8) "Wage" has the meaning provided in RCW 49.46.010.
(9) "Wage complaint" means a complaint from an employee to the department that asserts that an employer has violated one or more wage payment requirements and that is reduced to writing.
(10) "Wage payment requirement" means a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.46.020, 49.46.130, 49.48.010, 49.52.050, or 49.52.060, and any related rules adopted by the department.
(11) "Willful" means a knowing and intentional action that is neither accidental nor the result of a bona fide dispute, as evaluated under the standards applicable to wage payment violations under RCW 49.52.050(2).
(12) "Repeat willful violator" means any employer that has been the subject of a final and binding citation and notice of assessment for a willful violation of a wage payment requirement within three years of the date of issue of the most recent citation and notice of assessment for a willful violation of a wage payment requirement.
(13) "Successor" means any person to whom an employer quitting, selling out, exchanging, or disposing of a business sells or otherwise conveys in bulk and not in the ordinary course of the employer's business, more than fifty percent of the property, whether real or personal, tangible or intangible, of the employer's business.
Sec. 2 RCW 49.48.083 and 2006 c 89 s 2 are each amended to read
(1) If an employee files a wage complaint with the department, the department shall investigate the wage complaint. Unless otherwise resolved, the department shall issue either a citation and notice of assessment or a determination of compliance((
: (a))) no later than
sixty days after the date on which the department received the wage
complaint(( , unless the department extends this time period for good
cause; and (b) no later than three years after the date on which the
cause of action accrued, unless a longer period of time applies under
law. Such cause of action for wage claims accrues from the date when
the wages are due)). The department may extend the time period by
providing advance written notice to the employee and the employer
setting forth good cause for an extension of the time period and
specifying the duration of the extension. The department may not
investigate any alleged violation of a wage payment requirement that
occurred more than three years before the date that the employee filed
the wage complaint. The department shall send the citation and notice
of assessment or the determination of compliance to both the employer
and the employee by service of process or certified mail to their last
(2) If the department determines that an employer has violated a wage payment requirement and issues to the employer a citation and notice of assessment, the department may order the employer to pay employees all wages owed, including interest of one percent per month on all wages owed, to the employee. The wages and interest owed must be calculated from the first date wages were owed to the employee, except that the department may not order the employer to pay any wages and interest that were owed more than three years before the date the wage complaint was filed with the department.
(3) If the department determines that the violation of the wage payment requirement was a willful violation, the department also may order the employer to pay the department a civil penalty as specified in (a) of this subsection.
(a) A civil penalty for a willful violation of a wage payment requirement shall be not less than ((
five hundred)) one thousand
dollars or an amount equal to ten percent of the total amount of unpaid
wages, whichever is greater. The maximum civil penalty for a willful
violation of a wage payment requirement shall be twenty thousand
(b) The department may not assess a civil penalty if the employer reasonably relied on: (i) A rule related to any wage payment requirement; (ii) a written order, ruling, approval, opinion, advice, determination, or interpretation of the director; or (iii) an interpretive or administrative policy issued by the department and filed with the office of the code reviser. In accordance with the department's retention schedule obligations under chapter 40.14 RCW, the department shall maintain a complete and accurate record of all written orders, rulings, approvals, opinions, advice, determinations, and interpretations for purposes of determining whether an employer is immune from civil penalties under (b)(ii) of this subsection.
(c) The department shall waive any civil penalty assessed against an employer under this section if the employer is not a repeat willful violator, and the director determines that the employer has provided payment to the employee of all wages that the department determined that the employer owed to the employee, including interest, within ten business days of the employer's receipt of the citation and notice of assessment from the department.
(d) The department may waive or reduce at any time a civil penalty assessed under this section((
, in whole or in part,)) if the director
determines that the employer paid all wages and interest owed to an
(e) The department shall deposit civil penalties paid under this section in the supplemental pension fund established under RCW 51.44.033.
(4) Upon payment by an employer, and acceptance by an employee, of all wages and interest assessed by the department in a citation and notice of assessment issued to the employer, the fact of such payment by the employer, and of such acceptance by the employee, shall: (a) Constitute a full and complete satisfaction by the employer of all specific wage payment requirements addressed in the citation and notice of assessment; and (b) bar the employee from initiating or pursuing any court action or other judicial or administrative proceeding based on the specific wage payment requirements addressed in the citation and notice of assessment. The citation and notice of assessment shall include a notification and summary of the specific requirements of this subsection.
(5) The applicable statute of limitations for civil actions is tolled during the department's investigation of an employee's wage complaint against an employer. For the purposes of this subsection, the department's investigation begins on the date the employee files the wage complaint with the department and ends when: (a) The wage complaint is finally determined through a final and binding citation and notice of assessment or determination of compliance; (b) the department notifies the employer and the employee in writing that the wage complaint has been otherwise resolved or that the employee has elected to terminate the department's administrative action under RCW 49.48.085.
Sec. 3 RCW 49.48.084 and 2006 c 89 s 3 are each amended to read
(1) A person, firm, or corporation aggrieved by a citation and notice of assessment or a determination of compliance issued by the department under RCW 49.48.083 or the assessment of civil penalty due to a determination of status as a repeat willful violator may appeal the citation and notice of assessment ((
or)), the determination of
compliance, or the assessment of civil penalty to the director by
filing a notice of appeal with the director within thirty days of the
department's issuance of the citation and notice of assessment (( or)),
the determination of compliance, or the assessment of civil penalty.
A citation and notice of assessment (( or)), a determination of
compliance, or an assessment of a civil penalty not appealed within
thirty days is final and binding, and not subject to further appeal.
(2) A notice of appeal filed with the director under this section shall stay the effectiveness of the citation and notice of assessment ((
or)), the determination of compliance, or the assessment of civil
penalty pending final review of the appeal by the director as provided
for in chapter 34.05 RCW.
(3) Upon receipt of a notice of appeal, the director shall assign the hearing to an administrative law judge of the office of administrative hearings to conduct the hearing and issue an initial order. The hearing and review procedures shall be conducted in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW, and the standard of review by the administrative law judge of an appealed citation and notice of assessment ((
or)), an appealed determination of compliance, or an
appealed assessment of civil penalty shall be de novo. Any party who
seeks to challenge an initial order shall file a petition for
administrative review with the director within thirty days after
service of the initial order. The director shall conduct
administrative review in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW.
(4) The director shall issue all final orders after appeal of the initial order. The final order of the director is subject to judicial review in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW.
(5) Orders that are not appealed within the time period specified in this section and chapter 34.05 RCW are final and binding, and not subject to further appeal.
(6) An employer who fails to allow adequate inspection of records in an investigation by the department under this chapter within a reasonable time period may not use such records in any appeal under this section to challenge the correctness of any determination by the department of wages owed or penalty assessed.
Sec. 4 RCW 49.48.086 and 2006 c 89 s 5 are each amended to read
(1) After a final order is issued under RCW 49.48.084, if an employer defaults in the payment of: (a) Any wages determined by the department to be owed to an employee, including interest; or (b) any civil penalty ordered by the department under RCW 49.48.083, the director may file with the clerk of any county within the state a warrant in the amount of the payment plus any filing fees. The clerk of the county in which the warrant is filed shall immediately designate a superior court cause number for the warrant, and the clerk shall cause to be entered in the judgment docket under the superior court cause number assigned to the warrant, the name of the employer mentioned in the warrant, the amount of payment due on it plus any filing fees, and the date when the warrant was filed. The aggregate amount of the warrant as docketed becomes a lien upon the title to, and interest in, all real and personal property of the employer against whom the warrant is issued, the same as a judgment in a civil case docketed in the office of the clerk. The sheriff shall proceed upon the warrant in all respects and with like effect as prescribed by law with respect to execution or other process issued against rights or property upon judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction. The warrant so docketed is sufficient to support the issuance of writs of garnishment in favor of the state in a manner provided by law in case of judgment, wholly or partially unsatisfied. The clerk of the court is entitled to a filing fee which will be added to the amount of the warrant. A copy of the warrant shall be mailed to the employer within three days of filing with the clerk.
(2)(a) The director may issue to any person, firm, corporation, other entity, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, a public corporation, or any agency of the state, a notice and order to withhold and deliver property of any kind when he or she has reason to believe that there is in the possession of the person, firm, corporation, other entity, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state, property that is or will become due, owing, or belonging to an employer upon whom a notice of assessment has been served by the department for payments or civil penalties due to the department. The effect of a notice and order is continuous from the date the notice and order is first made until the liability out of which the notice and order arose is satisfied or becomes unenforceable because of lapse of time. The department shall release the notice and order when the liability out of which the notice and order arose is satisfied or becomes unenforceable by reason of lapse of time and shall notify the person against whom the notice and order was made that the notice and order has been released.
(b) The notice and order to withhold and deliver must be served by the sheriff of the county or by the sheriff's deputy, by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by the director. A person, firm, corporation, other entity, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state upon whom service has been made shall answer the notice within twenty days exclusive of the day of service, under oath and in writing, and shall make true answers to the matters inquired of in the notice and order. Upon service of the notice and order, if the party served possesses any property that may be subject to the claim of the department, the party shall promptly deliver the property to the director. The director shall hold the property in trust for application on the employer's indebtedness to the department, or for return without interest, in accordance with a final determination of a petition for review. In the alternative, the party shall furnish a good and sufficient surety bond satisfactory to the director conditioned upon final determination of liability. If a party served and named in the notice fails to answer the notice within the time prescribed in this section, the court may render judgment by default against the party for the full amount claimed by the director in the notice, together with costs. If a notice is served upon an employer and the property subject to it is wages, the employer may assert in the answer all exemptions provided for by chapter 6.27 RCW to which the wage earner is entitled.
(3) In addition to the procedure for collection of wages owed, including interest, and civil penalties as set forth in this section, the department may recover wages owed, including interest, and civil penalties assessed under RCW 49.48.083 in a civil action brought in a court of competent jurisdiction of the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred.
(4) Whenever any employer quits business, sells out, exchanges, or otherwise disposes of the employer's business or stock of goods, any person who becomes a successor to the business becomes liable for the full amount of any outstanding citation and notice of assessment or penalty against the employer's business under this chapter if, at the time of the conveyance of the business, the successor has: (a) Actual knowledge of the fact and amount of the outstanding citation and notice of assessment or (b) a prompt, reasonable, and effective means of accessing and verifying the fact and amount of the outstanding citation and notice of assessment from the department. If the citation and notice of assessment or penalty is not paid in full by the employer within ten days of the date of the sale, exchange, or disposal, the successor is liable for the payment of the full amount of the citation and notice of assessment or penalty, and payment thereof by the successor must, to the extent thereof, be deemed a payment upon the purchase price. If the payment is greater in amount than the purchase price, the amount of the difference becomes a debt due the successor from the employer.
(5) This section does not affect other collection remedies that are otherwise provided by law.
Sec. 5 RCW 49.48.060 and 1971 ex.s. c 55 s 4 are each amended to
read as follows:
(1) If upon investigation by the director, after taking assignments of any wage claim under RCW 49.48.040 or after receiving a wage complaint as defined in RCW 49.48.082 from an employee, it appears to the director that the employer is representing to his employees that he is able to pay wages for their services and that the employees are not being paid for their services, the director may require the employer to give a bond in such sum as the director deems reasonable and adequate in the circumstances, with sufficient surety, conditioned that the employer will for a definite future period not exceeding six months conduct his business and pay his employees in accordance with the laws of the state of Washington.
(2) If within ten days after demand for such bond the employer fails to provide the same, the director may commence a suit against the employer in the superior court of appropriate jurisdiction to compel him to furnish such bond or cease doing business until he has done so. The employer shall have the burden of proving the amount thereof to be excessive.
(3) If the court finds that there is just cause for requiring such bond and that the same is reasonable, necessary or appropriate to secure the prompt payment of the wages of the employees of such employer and his compliance with ((
RCW 49.48.010 through 49.48.080))
one or more wage payment requirements as defined in RCW 49.48.082, the
court shall enjoin such employer from doing business in this state
until the requirement is met, or shall make other, and may make
further, orders appropriate to compel compliance with the requirement.
(4) Upon being informed of a wage claim against an employer or former employer, the director shall, if such claim appears to be just, immediately notify the employer or former employer, of such claim by mail. If the employer or former employer fails to pay the claim or make satisfactory explanation to the director of his failure to do so, within thirty days thereafter, the employer or former employer shall be liable to a penalty of ten percent of that portion of the claim found to be justly due. The director shall have a cause of action against the employer or former employer for the recovery of such penalty, and the same may be included in any subsequent action by the director on said wage claim, or may be exercised separately after adjustment of such wage claim without court action. This subsection does not apply to wage complaints made under RCW 49.48.083.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6 A new section is added to chapter 49.48 RCW
to read as follows:
(1) The department shall assess a civil penalty against any repeat willful violator in an amount of not less than one thousand dollars or an amount equal to ten percent of the total amount of unpaid wages, whichever is greater. The maximum civil penalty for a repeat willful violator under this section is twenty thousand dollars.
(2) The department may waive or reduce a civil penalty assessed under this section if the director determines that the employer has paid all wages and interest owed to the employee.