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Published Sunday, June 2, 2024 in the Everett Herald

Boeing Agrees to Pay Over $11.5M in Back Pay to Employees

Nearly 500 workers received back wages, in what Washington regulators call the largest-ever settlement of its kind in state history.

Boeing Agrees to Pay Over $11.5M in Back Pay to Employees

 By Janice Podsada

Boeing agreed to pay more than $11.5 million in back wages to 495 employees in the state’s largest-ever settlement for back pay, according to state regulators. 

The state Department of Labor & Industries determined the amount after launching an investigation into the company’s wage calculations 18 months ago. 

In November 2022, the agency received four complaints from workers performing aircraft maintenance at overseas locations for Boeing. From there, regulators began a broader investigation into the company’s travel pay and policies for Washington workers, according to an agency statement. 

“As we shared the findings of our investigation with Boeing, they worked with us to provide a complete review of their records and agreed to pay these employees what they were owed,” Labor & Industries Director Joel Sacks said in a statement. “Work travel is still work — and we want to ensure Washington businesses understand what they owe to their workers who are on the road.” 

In an agreement with the agency signed May 24, Boeing acknowledged the amount owed. The company paid workers their back wages in March, regulators said. 

Boeing paid the four workers who filed the initial complaints, as well as a larger group affected by the company’s travel work policies. The total includes wages and overtime for travel between October 2019 and August 2023. Individual workers received amounts ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $90,000, the agency said. 

The Daily Herald asked if any employees that received back pay were connected to Boeing’s Everett assembly plant, but the agency said it does not track the locations of individual recipients. 

In a statement, Boeing said Thursday: “As Washington has clarified the state’s travel pay policies in the past several years, we also aligned our pay practices to reflect those requirements.” 

“We also went a step further and provided back pay for eligible employees in 2021 and more recently provided back pay earlier this year for another group of employees that did not originally record all of their travel time,” the statement continued. “We are pleased the state has agreed to close an audit into Boeing pay practices.” 

Under state law, Washington companies must pay employees on work trips for the time they spend on travel and related activities. Employers also owe overtime and sick leave accrued based on those hours. 

Regulators found Boeing had not paid or accounted for all overtime and paid sick leave. 

“The workers’ time was in their employer’s hands, from when they required to be in the hotel lobby to being transported to an aircraft hangar — and that’s time that must be paid,” said Bryan Templeton, manager of the agency’s Employment Standards Program, which oversees wage complaints. 

The agreement also spells out conditions intended to ensure the issue doesn’t happen again, the agency said. 

The Boeing case represents the largest amount of back pay returned to workers in the agency’s history. The largest previous case involved Hertz and Thrifty car rental companies. In a 2017 agreement with the agency, the companies paid nearly $2 million in back wages to 157 workers. 

In 2023, Labor & Industries handled more than 7,800 wage complaints and returned more than $3.34 million in wages owed to workers, the agency said.