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Spokane pot shops may owe $300,000 in unpaid wages to employees

Investigators found that Lovely Buds only paid employees overtime if they worked overtime at one location, rather than any of the three locations.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Three Spokane pot shops could potentially owe employees $300,000 in unpaid wages and overtime from the past three years, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

L&I announced Wednesday that a wage and hour complaint from them and the Washington State Office of the Attorney General (AGO) will be filed against three Lovely Buds cannabis shops in Spokane County Superior Court.

The complaint names Lovely Buds, Lovely Buds North, Lovely Buds Division, Cannabis Green- Lovely Buds' parent corporation- and majority owners Elizabeth and Todd Byczek.

This is the first litigation of its kind against a cannabis retailer in Washington state, according to L&I.

The complaint states that L&I received another complaint in January 2019. From that complaint, investigators found that the company only paid employees overtime if they worked overtime at one location. Investigators said employees often worked more than 40 hours at different locations owned by the company without receiving overtime.

Investigators also found that sick leave was parceled out in the same way.

According to L&I, they along with AGO attempted to reach a settlement with the owners of Lovely Buds.

 "Our goal in this case and any other wage and hour case is simple: Get these employees the wages and benefits they’ve earned,” L&I Director Joel Sacks said in a statement. “If these violations are ongoing, we’ll also work to change the way Cannabis Green does business so future workers don’t also become victims of wage theft.”

L&I said Lovely Buds provided some pay records before taking the state to court in Spokane in an attempt to stop the investigation. However, the state won that case, which allowed the investigation to continue.

L&I and AGO said they will work to determine exactly how many employees are involved and how much in wages and benefits they are owed. According to reported retail sales to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, the three Lovely Buds locations brought in more than $10.7 million in 2021.

KREM 2 reached out to Lovely Buds for comment on the complaints but has not yet heard back.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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