The state’s Wage Payment Act provides basic rights for you as an employee. It also provides a way to file a worker rights complaint if you believe your rights have been violated.
If you believe your workplace rights have been violated, there are three ways you can file a complaint:
- File a Worker Rights Complaint online,
- Download and mail a completed Worker Rights Complaint form, or
- Visit your nearest L&I office.
You can file a worker rights complaint with L&I in the following areas:
- Minimum wage.
- Overtime, including mandatory nurse’s overtime.
- Agreed wages.
- Paid sick leave.
- Final paychecks.
- Tips and service charges.
- Non-sufficient fund (NSF) checks.
- Unauthorized deductions
It is against the law for a business to fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee who exercises a protected right, files or intends to file a complaint, or who has discussed potential violations of their rights.
Submitting a Complaint
You can file a complaint even if you no longer work for the employer you are filing a complaint against. If we do not have the authority to investigate your complaint, we may refer you to the appropriate agency.
Information to include
In your complaint, you should:
- Clearly state why you are filing a complaint and what rights you believe have been violated.
- Include the hours worked and wages owed, when applicable.
- Provide any relevant information or documents that support your case.
- File your worker rights complaint within three years of when the violation occurred.
- For cases involving worker retaliation, you have 180 days to file your complaint.
During an Investigation
In order to investigate, we will need to give the employer your name and a copy of your complaint. We understand that it takes a lot of courage to file a complaint. Our role is to act in an impartial fashion. While investigating, we may request records such as paystubs, workplace policies, witness statements, and time cards from you and the employer.
Investigations typically take up to 60 days to complete, but some cases may take longer to resolve. It is very important to stay in contact with your assigned investigator once the investigation has started. If you don’t send information and documents in a timely fashion, the investigator may have to close your case.
Withdrawing a Complaint
During an investigation, you have the right to withdraw your Worker Rights Complaint for any reason and at any time. For instance, you can decide to withdraw your complaint and file a lawsuit or “opt out” of an L&I investigation. Self-help resources are available from the Washington courts or by contacting your local bar association.
Ending an Investigation
There are several possible outcomes after we complete our investigation:
- We may provide education to your employer and/or try to find a mutually acceptable outcome between you and your employer.
- If the evidence gathered does not substantiate your claim, we will close the Worker Rights Complaint and send a letter to both you and your employer. This letter will state we could not find a violation and will not take further action.
- If your Worker Rights Complaint is substantiated, or if your employer fails to respond to our inquiries, we may issue a citation and order your employer take corrective action and/or pay any money owed. We will make every attempt to, but cannot guarantee, collection.
Both parties have 30 days to appeal a determination. Appeals must be submitted to L&I in writing by following the instructions in the determination letter. Appeals are conducted by the state Office of Administrative Hearings.
Public disclosure laws allow access to most complaints once L&I closes an investigation. L&I redacts protected or confidential information from complaint files before releasing them.