Boeing pays millions in wages after L&I starts investigation

May 30, 2024

TUMWATER — A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) wage complaint investigation resulted in The Boeing Co. paying $11.5 million in unpaid wages to nearly 500 workers.

L&I and Boeing signed a compliance agreement May 24 acknowledging payments totaling $11,538,550.56 to 495 Boeing employees.

L&I received four complaints in November 2022 from workers who were performing aircraft maintenance overseas for Boeing. From there, it expanded to a broader investigation into travel pay and policies for workers in Washington State.

“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,” said agency Director Joel Sacks. “Work travel is still work—and we want to ensure Washington businesses understand what they owe to their workers who are on the road.”

Investigation details
Under the law, Washington companies must pay workers for time spent on mandatory travel and on-the-job related activities while on a required work trip. Employers also owe overtime and sick leave accrual based on those hours.

In the agreement, Boeing said it started revising the pay practices after a September 2021 Court of Appeals case, Port of Tacoma v. Sacks. The case affirmed L&I’s position on compensating workers for out-of-town business travel. Unlike federal wage and hour law, which excludes certain travel time, all travel time related to work is considered work time under Washington law.

L&I found Boeing had not paid or accounted for all overtime and for paid sick leave for the additional time going to worksites while out of town. Investigators from L&I’s Proactive Investigation and Enforcement Unit handled the investigation. The agency formed the team in 2018 to tackle complex cases involving large numbers of workers.

“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, L&I’s manager of its Employment Standards Program, which oversees wage complaints.

Boeing agreed to pay workers, prevent future issues
During the course of L&I’s investigation, Boeing agreed to pay both the workers who filed initial complaints and the larger group impacted by travel work policies at the company. The company made those payments in March 2024. 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 additional terms in the agreement spell out conditions intended to ensure the issue doesn’t happen again. Boeing commits to following the law related to travel work pay in the future. They have also developed a process to investigate if additional wages are owed and provide payment when employees submit relevant documentation. The company will also contact L&I if any questions arise whether an employee’s activity is considered “hours worked.”

L&I investigates wage complaints
The Boeing case represents the largest amount of back pay returned to workers in the agency’s history.

The previous largest case involved Hertz and Thrifty car rental companies. In an August 2017 agreement with the agency, the companies paid nearly $2 million in back wages to 157 workers.

In Fiscal Year 2023, L&I returned more than $3.34 million in wages owed to workers. The agency handled 7,872 wage complaints in that time.

Employees who do not receive all wages due for work performed may go online to file a Workplace Rights Complaint. Under law, L&I investigates all complaints.

More information about wage and hour laws and workplace rights is available in multiple languages on L&I's webpage. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or
1-866-219-7321, or send questions to

For media information:

Matthew Erlich, Public Affairs, 360-902-6508.

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