Seattle Airport Rental Employees Get $2M in Back Pay

An agreement between the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), Hertz, and Thrifty over back pay — owed under SeaTac's minimum wage law — will mean checks for thousands of dollars for numerous workers at the car rental companies' SeaTac locations.

In total, the nearly $2 million agreement is one of L&I's largest over back pay in recent history, according to a news release by L&I.

A total of 157 workers filed L&I claims for wages owed between Jan. 1, 2014, when the $15 minimum wage took effect, and Sept. 30, 2015. The latter date is when the Washington Supreme Court ruled the ordinance covered companies at the airport.

"People have a right to get paid what they've worked hard for; when they don't, L&I can help," said Joel Sacks, director of L&I. "Now that this agreement is in place, we're moving ahead to get this money into the hands of the people who worked hard for it. The funds will make a real difference for these workers and their families."

The Hertz and Thrifty workers clean, maintain, and prepare rental cars for customers. They also drive shuttles to locations around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Hertz and DTG Operations Inc. (Thrifty) formally signed the agreement Aug. 18. The companies will pay anywhere from a couple thousand dollars up to $30,000 per employee, including interest. The back wages alone total $1.51 million — with another $458,651 in interest, according to the news release.

Under the agreement, the state waived any associated penalties, and there was no admission of wrongdoing by the companies.

The companies will send L&I checks for individuals, who must sign a form freeing the employers from any further claims. If a worker can't be contacted, L&I will hold the checks for a year before sending them to the Department of Revenue as unclaimed, according to the news release.

The agreement covers additional claims for back wages other workers at Hertz and Thrifty may file through L&I. It also ends any other outstanding legal proceedings on this issue that involve L&I.

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