Employee wage theft can be so subtle that it goes unnoticed for years. A few dollars here and there may seem harmless. But over time, it can add up to enough to make a lower-wage worker’s life a lot harder. It may also be a sign that an employer is stealing from workers in other ways.
That’s what happened in the case of Everett-based wedding venue Monte Cristo Ballroom. The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries and Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the company on Monday for stealing wages from its employees.
The lawsuit, filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, alleges that the wedding hall’s owner, Anthony Reeves, pocketed more than $12,000 from workers over the last three years by deducting small meal charges, without their permission, for leftovers they may or may not have eaten after catered events.
“While the amount of money taken from individual workers each shift may seem relatively small, in the end it added up to thousands of dollars that should have gone to employees and their families and not into the owner’s pockets,” Labor and Industries director Joel Sacks told the Everett Herald.
Apparently, wage theft was only the tip of the iceberg. Over the past four years, workers have reported $3,300 in lost wages through separate complaints unrelated to the meal charges, and the wedding hall owes $21,000 in missed workers’ compensation payments dating to 2018.
That the Everett Herald had named Monte Cristo Ballroom “Best Wedding Venue” in its 2019 readers’ choice awards goes show that wage and other types of theft from employees happens even at the community’s seemingly best businesses. Celebrity Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas settled a class-action lawsuit with 1,000 current and former employees for not disclosing where a 20 percent service surcharge was going and for not providing adequate rest and meal breaks.
Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us at if you have a wage violation, workers’ comp, injury, or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.