Some former employees will receive thousands of dollars in back pay
SEATTLE — As a result of an Attorney General’s Office prosecution, two business owners have pleaded guilty to felony theft, and will repay more than $33,000 in stolen wages to 24 employees of their house cleaning businesses.
“Businesses that commit wage theft are stealing from their workers,” Ferguson said. “My office is committed to fighting wage theft with all the tools in our toolbox.”
Travis Jackson pleaded guilty to first-degree theft and attempted failure to pay industrial insurance premiums, and Marissa Bond pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, for knowingly withholding earned wages to their employees.
A King County Superior Court judge sentenced Jackson to 120 days in jail, converted to electronic home monitoring; an additional 244 days in jail suspended for two years on the condition that Jackson complies with all conditions of his sentence and has no further criminal violations; and $600 in fees. Bond was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and $600 in fees. They are both required to repay their victims $33,298, and $12,648.56 to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries for unpaid industrial insurance premiums. They are both required to provide a DNA sample as a result of their felony convictions.
Jackson and Bond co-owned Advanced Cleaning Solutions, created in March of 2017, and Washington Cleaning Solutions, formed in April of the following year. The companies provided cleaning services to residents along the I-5 corridor in King County. Homeowners purchased cleaning services from the companies, which in turn hired house cleaners to perform the work at an hourly rate. However, they failed to pay 24 employees for their services.
L&I began receiving wage complaints from the companies’ workers in June of 2017. After receiving multiple wage claims, L&I referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office for a joint investigation.
The couple failed to pay workers their wages and, at times, gave workers checks that could not be cashed.
Employment agreements provided to investigators by workers stated that employees were prohibited from asking about their checks, and would be terminated immediately if they refused to work because they had not been paid: “I agree that I will not make inquiries, question, or harass the company or its representatives at any time about my checks and when they will be received. I understand that if I refuse to work because I haven’t received a check then I will be terminated immediately.”
When unpaid workers texted Bond demanding to be paid, they told investigators that they were ignored, told the check was in the mail, or told that they had asked too many times for payment, and therefore were fired.
As time progressed Bond and Jackson hired managers, and those managers relayed that workers were not paid to Bond and Jackson. Bond and Jackson typically instructed managers to tell employees that “the check is in the mail,” or “the check is coming.”
Some workers went a full month with no payment, and told investigators they begged Bond and Jackson to pay them, because they did not have enough money to buy food or gas to get to their cleaning jobs. Some even lost their own housing because they were unable to pay their rent as a result of not being paid for their work. These pleas were ignored.
One worker provided four threatening voicemails from Jackson, where he yelled and degraded her about her work ethic, blaming her for bad online reviews because she shared online that she was not paid. He stated he would not pay her.
At times, when workers complained about late payment, Bond and Jackson would invoke the threatening language in their employee agreements, saying they would sue for $5,000.
The Attorney General’s Office does not have authority to initiate criminal investigations, unless it receives and accepts a referral from a county prosecutor or the governor. The Attorney General’s Office accepted a referral from the King County Prosecuting Attorney in this case.
Assistant Attorney General Tienney Milnor and Senior Investigator Kim Triplett-Kolerich handled the case for Washington.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.firstname.lastname@example.org
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