A default judgment order has been requested from the Snohomish County Superior Court in the Monte Cristo Ballroom case. The state Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) want a court to order Monte Cristo Ballroom LLC and its owner, Anthony Reeves, to repay wages owed former employees.
We wrote about this case in a prior post, MONTE CRISTO BALLROOM HIT WITH WAGE THEFT CHARGES.
The state agencies will file a motion for a default judgment on October 8, 2020 in Snohomish County Superior Court. If granted, the court’s order would become a legally enforceable tool for L&I to go after wages owed to 156 employees. The order, for example, could be the foundation for legal actions such as property liens and levies against bank accounts held by the company or owner.
“Workers deserve to be paid fairly for their work, period,” said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “Employers do not have the right to deduct whatever they want from their employees’ paychecks without their consent.
“When Washington workers’ rights are violated, L&I and my office will partner to enforce the law and hold them accountable,” he said. “Our action brings us one step closer to accountability and justice for the impacted workers.”
The initial complaint, filed in December 2019, stemmed from Reeves’ taking a $2.99 “meal” charge from 156 employees during each shift worked between December 2016 and April 2019. The Monte Cristo owner took the money from workers’ paychecks without their permission in return for allowing them to eat leftovers from catered events — whether the workers wanted to eat the food or not.
In all, the deductions covered 4,100 shifts and totaled $12,386.86.
“This order gives us another way to get employees the wages they earned,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “While the amount of money taken from individual workers each shift may seem relatively small, in the end it added up to thousands of dollars that should have gone to employees and their families and not into the owner’s pockets.”
Employees filed complaints
The Monte Cristo Ballroom LLC, 1507 Wall St. in Everett, stopped operating in October 2019. Since the sudden closure, more workers have filed wage complaints with L&I.
L&I attempted to settle with Monte Cristo for the wages owed the workers. An agreement drafted in September 2019 set out a payment schedule through October 2020, and ordered the restaurant to stop taking money without the employee’s consent. Reeves never signed that document.
As part of the court filing, the agencies are asking for attorney’s fees and processing fees. If approved, that would add about $2,700 to the wages and interest owed.
L&I oversees the state’s wage-and-hour laws. The agency investigates all wage-payment complaints. More information on wages or filing a complaint is available on L&I’s wage-and-hour webpage. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.