Boeing Settles Record $11,500,000 Compensation Dispute with Washington Department of Labor & Industries

June 4, 2024


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A Boeing Airplane on Ground technician inspects the plane's landing gear.
By Prashant Chaudhary
Updated June 3, 2024

Boeing has agreed to pay a record $11.5 million in back wages to nearly 500 employees, marking the largest payout for worker compensation in the history of the Washington Department of Labor & Industries. This settlement addresses issues where Boeing employees were not adequately compensated for travel time required for their roles, particularly affecting Aircraft on Ground teams who perform critical technical services.

Details of the Payment and Worker Impact

The affected Boeing workers, who are part of specialized teams dispatched to repair grounded airplanes, received their final payments on March 24. Individual payments varied significantly, with some receiving a few hundred dollars, while others were compensated more than $90,000, reflecting the extent of the underpayments that spanned from October 2019 to August 2023.

Legal Background and Court Rulings

This significant payout follows a 2021 Washington Court of Appeals ruling that set a clear precedent for compensating workers for all business-related travel time. This decision, reinforcing state policies that differ from federal guidelines, mandates that any travel time spent under an employer’s directive counts as work time, thus eligible for compensation. The case that established this precedent, Port of Tacoma v. Sacks, specifically highlighted the need to compensate for all hours spent traveling to a work assignment, not just the hours worked on-site.

Boeing’s Response to Compliance Issues

In response to the ruling, Boeing adjusted its travel pay policies to align with state law and began issuing corrected payments in 2021. The process revealed discrepancies in what employees believed they were owed, prompting further reviews and adjustments by Boeing in cooperation with the Department of Labor & Industries’ Proactive Investigations and Enforcement Unit.

Ensuring Future Compliance

As part of its commitment to rectify the pay issues and prevent future violations, Boeing has introduced new processes for employees to accurately log travel-related time. The company has also agreed to work closely with Labor & Industries to ensure ongoing compliance with state labor laws, emphasizing that there will be no retaliation against employees who raise concerns about wage discrepancies.

A Step Toward Fair Labor Practices

The resolution of this case marks a significant step in enforcing fair labor standards in Washington, particularly regarding travel compensation. It underscores the importance of transparent and accurate wage practices and sets a precedent for how labor disputes of this nature are handled in the state, ensuring that workers are fairly compensated for all aspects of their employment.

Read the full article here.

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