My office continues our work to protect Washingtonians from powerful interests that don’t play by the rules. This month, we filed criminal charges against business owners that stole wages from their workers and defrauded tax payers. We recovered $21.5 million for the state by bringing a lawsuit against Standard Poor’s for deceptive practices that contributed to the Great Recession. We won an important consumer protection case that ensures the civil rights of same sex couples in our state.
This legislative session, we are working to protect youth from the harms of smoking by asking the legislature to raise the smoking age to 21.
- Prosecuting wage theft and tax fraud
- S&P Lawsuit: $21.5 million recovery for Washington
- Protecting Youth: Raising smoking age to 21
- Court sides with Attorney General in Arlene’s Flowers consumer discrimination case
As always, thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office as we serve the people of Washington.
Washington State Attorney General
My office will not tolerate employers who cheat Washington workers out of their hard-earned wages. We will prosecute criminal wage theft. We recently filed criminal charges against two athletic club owners for stealing wages from their employees and evading taxes. Former NFL player Sam Adams and his business partner, Dana Lynn, are accused of failing to pay wages and health care insurance premiums for employees of the West Seattle Athletic Club and a second fitness club they owned in Tacoma. The two are also alleged to have engaged in theft and tax fraud totaling more than $500,000.
I also recently proposed bipartisan legislation that would ensure the State of Washington does not do business with wage theft violators. The prime sponsors of the legislation are Sen. Pam Roach, R—Auburn, and Rep. Sam Hunt, D—Olympia. This bill passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote.
In one of the largest consumer protection recoveries in state history, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) will pay Washington $21.5 million to resolve litigation involving the credit rating firm’s role in the 2007-08 financial crisis.
In February 2013, I filed a consumer protection lawsuit against S&P in Snohomish County Superior Court. That lawsuit led to this month’s recovery, which is part of an agreement reached by the Department of Justice, Washington and a coalition of 18 other states resolving claims that S&P misled investors by inflating the credit ratings of toxic, mortgage-backed securities.
My proposal to protect youth from the health consequences of tobacco has passed a key legislative hurdle.
As I discussed last month, I requested legislation that would raise our state’s legal age to use and possess tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21. Sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall, D—Des Moines and Sen. Mark Miloscia, R—Federal Way, the bill passed the House Health Care and Wellness Committee in a bipartisan 12 to 3 vote.
This month, new state data was released showing that the use of nicotine vapor products among Washington’s 8th and 10th graders has risen to alarming levels.
Tacoma News Tribune
A Benton County Superior Court judge has ruled that a Richland florist violated our state’s Consumer Protection Act by refusing to serve a same-sex couple seeking to buy wedding flowers.
My office filed the lawsuit in 2013 against Arlene’s Flowers and its owner and operator, Barronelle Stutzman for discrimination. In our state, businesses that choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex must provide the same service to same-sex couples.
Approximately 3 percent of Arlene’s Flowers’s business involves the sale of wedding flowers. If the florist wants to continue this line of business, it must sell to all couples in Washington.
My goal in this case has always been to stop discrimination in the marketplace.
Before this case began, my office wrote to Ms. Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law. Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms. Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.
The day after the court’s ruling, I offered to settle this matter for a penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, an agreement not to discriminate in the future, and an end to further litigation. Ms. Stutzman declined that offer and plans to appeal.
I appreciate the judge’s decision, and will continue working to uphold laws that protect marriage equality in Washington.
The judge's ruling is available here.