SEATTLE - A local company our KIRO 7 Consumer Investigators first exposed for not paying employees and not always signing checks has done it again.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Amy Clancy was the first to expose Baristas bikini Coffee Company for not paying employees. The reports were followed by state and federal labor investigations, and in July, Clancy reported that Baristas had agreed to pay $85,000 in back wages, penalties and damages for not paying employees -- not signing paychecks.
Clancy learned Friday that one of the checks for federal restitution was also not signed.
Bonnie Walker picked up the check at the U.S. Department of Labor office in Seattle this week.
It's payment Baristas Coffee Company agreed to give her and 44 others as part of the $85,000 settlement with the US Department of Labor.
Walker says she asked the DOL employee three times, “Is this check going to be good this time? They assured me three times it was going to be good.”
It wasn't until Walker reached her bank that she learned the check had not been signed by either Barry Henthorn or Scott Steciw, who own and operate Baristas.
Not signing checks was a common problem KIRO 7 Consumer Investigators uncovered in multiple complaints filed with both the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and with federal labor investigators, which was why Walker was so suspicious that the new check, too, might not be good.
Walker: “It was not signed again. Just coincidentally, it was not signed.”
Clancy: “Do you think it's a coincidence?"
Walker: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all. I think Scott and Barry are upset that I called everybody that I could call, including the media, to say, ‘Hey, you know, these guys are exploiting young women.'”
In fact, Walker was the first employee to contact KIRO 7 nearly two years ago and speak out about Baristas unreliable and often bouncing paychecks.
Friday, KIRO 7 Consumer Investigators went to Henthorn's waterfront Tacoma home for an explanation about the lack of signature.
No one answered, but via email Henthorn explains the company signed all of the checks in the presence of DOL staff and that "if one was missed then we all missed it."
Scott Steciw promises to resolve the matter on Monday.
Clancy said she’d been asking the DOL all day whether Walker is the only one whose restitution check was not signed. So far, she has not received an answer.
Meanwhile, Baristas has fully complied with Washington state back wages and fines, nearly $5,000 worth.