Filing a Workplace Rights Complaint

How To File a Workplace Rights Complaint

If you believe your workplace rights have been denied by such things as not receiving pay, being denied rest or meal breaks, or not being allowed to use paid sick leave to care for a family member, you can file a complaint. Here’s how:

If you have problems downloading any form, visit or call the nearest L&I office.

The claim must contain a sufficient description of hours worked and wages owed. L&I will notify you whether a claim will be investigated. A complaint must be filed within three years of the payday when claimed wages were due.

In most cases, L&I will give the employer your name and a copy of your complaint. Further, public disclosure laws allow for others to gain access to most complaint files once the investigation is closed. Complaints about protected leave for domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are confidential and will not be released.

You can decide to file a lawsuit and “opt out” of an L&I investigation. Self-help resources are available from the Washington courts ( or by contacting your local bar association.

Protection from discrimination
It is against the law for a business to fire or otherwise discriminate against a worker for filing a complaint about a possible violation of their workplace rights.

Questions and answers

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  • Expand/collapse What happens after a worker files a Worker Rights Complaint?

    L&I will contact both employee and employer and collect records such as: paystubs, witness statements, and time cards.

    If the evidence gathered does not substantiate the claim, L&I will close the worker rights complaint with a letter, called a Determination of Compliance.

    If the Worker Rights Complaint is substantiated, or if the employer fails to respond to L&I inquiries, the agency will issue a citation and commence collection procedures. L&I cannot guarantee collection.

    The employee or employer then has 30 days to appeal any decision.

    Investigations are usually completed in 60 days. The employee may withdraw the Worker Rights Complaint for any reason during the investigation.

    If the employer pays the claimed wages or fulfills a negotiated settlement agreement with the employee, the Worker Rights Complaint will be closed.

  • Expand/collapse Can a worker who has quit still file a complaint?

    Yes, in most cases. S/he should call the nearest L&I office for help about the particular problem.


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