The owners of three lolly buds cannabis dispensaries in Spokane, Washington, could end up their workers with up to $300,000 in allegedly unpaid wages and overtime from the past three years.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) received a complaint in January 2019, and investigators found the dispensaries’ parent company, Cannabis Green, only paid employees overtime if they worked more than 40 hours at one store, according to L&I.
Unable to reach a settlement, officials from L&I and the Washington State Attorney’s Office (AGO) filed a wage and hour-compliant suit on May 11 in Spokane County Superior Court, suing that state Officials said It was the first against a cannabis retailer in the state.
The complaint names Cannabis Green and majority owners Elizabeth and Todd Beczek, with Lovely Buds, Lovely Buds North and Lovey Buds Division as the three dispensaries where the alleged allegations are being investigated.
“Not paying their overtime wages and benefits is a period of wage theft,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in an L&I press release. All businesses must follow the law. I am proud to partner with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry to ensure worker wages are protected.”
The three dispensaries listed opened in August 2014, February 2015, and June 2016, according to retail sales data from the Washington State Liquor and Hemp Board. The three stores combined recorded more than $10.7 million in total sales in 2021. Since its launch, the retail chain has posted more than $64.8 million in total sales through the end of 2021.
After the 2019 complaint, L&I claimed investigators found that employees worked more than 40 total hours at various Lovely Buds dispensaries without receiving overtime, and that sick leave was distributed in much the same way.
Lovely Buds initially provided some payroll records before trying to stop the investigation by taking the state to court in Spokane, but L&I won the case, paving the way for its investigation to continue, according to the press release.
“Our goal in this case and any other wage and hourly issue is simple: to get these employees to pay the wages and benefits they received,” L&I Director Joel Sachs said in the statement. “If these abuses continue, we will also work to change the way Cannabis Green operates so that future workers do not also fall victim to wage theft.”
Through last week’s complaints process, L&I and AGO officials aim to determine the number of company employees from 75 to 100, and how much wages and benefits they may be owed.