TACOMA, Wash. — An Ohio-based staffing agency that has placed thousands of Washington workers will end its existing non-compete agreements and pay restitution to affected employees, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday.
The attorney general’s investigation found Tradesmen International LLC illegally entered into non-compete agreements with workers, which prevented the workers from finding permanent employment at the businesses in which they were placed. Tradesmen continued these agreements after Jan. 1, 2020, when Washington’s law banning non-compete agreements for low and middle-income workers went into effect.
Tradesmen, which operates seven offices in Washington state, recruits and sources employees and places them with companies. Since 2020, it has placed about 1,200 workers at more than 300 businesses in Washington, most of which was for construction-related work.
Under an agreement, Tradesmen will pay $287,100 in restitution. About 1,200 current and former Washington state employees may be eligible for a claim.
The company must also inform those workers its non-compete agreements are no longer enforceable and it can’t require them moving forward.
The attorney general’s office was tipped off to Tradesmen’s practices in July 2021.
As part of its investigation, a state investigator applied for a job with Tradesmen and reported at no point during the interview process did Tradesmen disclose its non-compete agreements. One interviewer even told the investigator there were no restrictions around taking future jobs with the host.
Tradesmen signed a consent decree, which was filed in Pierce County Superior Court, to avoid a lawsuit, according to the attorney general’s office.
Anyone employed by Tradesmen since Jan. 1, 2020 should contact the Attorney General's Office at Tradesmensettlement@atg.wa.gov by Oct. 15 to see if they are eligible for restitution.
KING 5 contacted the company for comment but has not received a response yet.