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SeaTac Minimum Wage for Hotel Workers Q&A

Employees deserve to be paid a fair living wage. In 2013, the city of SeaTac passed a new law to pay workers a fair minimum wage, paid leave, and other provisions. The ordinance raised minimum wage to $15 for hospitality and transportation workers. Since then, the minimum wage increases every year for adjusted living expenses. Unfortunately, some SeaTac employers have not changed their employees’ wages to match the law. Here are some commonly asked questions about the SeaTac minimum wage ordinance and worker’s rights.

Q: What’s the SeaTac minimum wage?
A: The 2020 SeaTac minimum wage is $16.34.

This is the minimum wage for each year since the City of SeaTac Minimum Wage ordinance was passed:

  • 2017: $15.34
  • 2018: $15.64
  • 2019: $16.09
  • 2020: $16.34

For more information, see SMC 7.45.

Q: I work for a small hotel, am I entitled to make $16.34 an hour?
A: Yes.

If you are making less than $16.34 per hour, your employer needs to pay you the difference for every hour you worked, and your employer needs to immediately give you a raise! You are also entitled to your backpay for every hour you were underpaid.

Q: Does my employer have to pay me double for paying me less than $16.34?
A: Yes!

RCW 49.52.070 awards you double damages for your boss’s violation of Washington state’s wage laws. Your employer must pay twice the amount of the underpayment for each hour you worked.

Q: I’ve worked at the same job for years, does my employer have to pay me for underpayments in prior years?
A: Yes, your employer must pay you for every hour you worked in the last three years.

The lookback period, also known as the “statute of limitations” is three years in Washington, so you’re entitled to be paid for every hour you worked for each of those three years. You are also entitled to be paid double that amount for your employer’s willful violations.

Q: Does my employer have to pay my attorney and lawyer fees?
A: Yes, your employer must reimburse you for your attorney fees if they lose in court.

Q: Is it a crime to pay me less than $16.34 per hour in SeaTac?
A: Yes.

If you work for a hotel that qualifies under the SeaTac Minimum Wage ordinance and pays you less than you are owed, it’s called wage theft and it’s a crime in Washington. RCW 49.52.050 makes wage theft a misdemeanor.

Q: Many people think minimum wage in SeaTac is lower than $16.34. But did you know that even small employers are covered by this rule?
A: Any hotel with 100 or more rooms and 30 workers or more must pay each worker at least $16.34 per hour.

If you just received a raise, it may be illegal.

If you recently received a raise to $16.34 or more an hour, then your employer was probably paying you less than you deserve. You have a claim for each day you worked that you received less than $16.34, even if your boss gave you a raise. You are also entitled to receive double the amount of each dollar your employer failed to pay you. It’s called wage theft and it’s a crime!

Q: What hotels are covered by SMC 7.45?
A: Any hotel with 100 or more guest rooms in SeaTac city limits.

Currently, these include Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express Suites, Seattle Airport Marriott, Aloft, Cedarbrook Lodge, Crowne Plaza, Red Lion Hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott, Radisson, DoubleTree, and Motel 6. If you’re not sure whether the hotel you work for is covered, contact us to find out more!

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