The Washington Wage Claim Project ("WWCP") is a non-profit organization which opened Labor Day of 2015. We organized in order to provide greater access to justice to low wage workers in Washington State. Wage and hour violations are widespread in numerous industries, particularly in those which typically employ low wage, often immigrant workers. As just one example, piece rate immigrant construction workers virtually never receive required overtime pay.
The wage and hour laws as they exist are more often than not sufficient to enforce worker rights. Employees are given the benefits of various presumptions, liberal interpretations of the law, and relaxed burdens of proof. Still, the laws remain grossly under-enforced. Law firms are reluctant to take on individual, non-class action wage claims. Our project's goal is to increase access to justice for low wage workers by providing legal representation, public outreach and lawyer training.
In our two-plus years, we have:
Obtained over $8,000,000 in settlements for low wage employees in dozens of cases, representing construction workers, restaurant workers, Sea-Tac airport workers, drivers, shipyard workers, janitors and a car wash attendant;
Participated in community outreach and trainings on wage and hour rights and issues.
Our attorneys have many years of experience fighting for the rights of low wage workers.
Our project is dedicated to the memory of Elsie Parrish, a Wenatchee hotel maid whose fight to enforce Washington's 1913 minimum wage law began in Chelan County Superior Court. It resulted in one of the most important 20th Century legal victories for workers' rights in Parrish v. West Coast Hotel, 300 U.S. 379 (1937), affirming 185 Wash. 581 (1936), which established the right of states to regulate minimum wages, led to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and dealt a crucial blow to advocates of substantive due process who up until that point had succeeded in preventing a wide variety of New Deal Legislation.
Our Washington Supreme Court has repeatedly observed "Washington’s long and proud history of being a pioneer in the protection of employee rights.” SeeDrinkwitz v. Alliant Techsystems, Inc., 140 Wn.2d 291 (2000). Elsie Parrish is at the heart of that long and proud history.