The Vancouver, Wash.-based company is under investigation by federal authorities in a case involving its workers’ compensation reserves.

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Barrett Business Services, the Vancouver, Wash.-based supplier of staffing and outsourced human resources services, is under investigation by federal authorities in a case involving the company’s workers’ compensation reserves.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Barrett said the SEC has launched an investigation of the company’s “accounting practices with regard to its workers’ compensation reserves.”

The company is “cooperating fully with the SEC staff in providing the requested information,” according to Barrett’s filing Monday. The company declined to comment Tuesday. The news pushed the company’s stock down $14.54, or 29 percent, to $35.01 Tuesday.

During the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call in April, Michael Elich, president and CEO of Barrett, said the company continued to maintain a “proactive, positive position” related to workers’ compensation expenses.

The context of the company’s discussion of workers’ compensation costs was its announcement in the third quarter of last year of an $80 million increase in reserves for payments of drawn-out workers’ compensation claims.

In the aftermath of that announcement, the company was hit with a shareholder class-action lawsuit alleging Barrett, Elich and Chief Financial Officer Jim Miller violated federal securities laws. The suit arose after the company’s stock price plummeted on the heels of its announcement of increased workers’ compensation reserves.

In a filing with the SEC, the company said it will defend itself against the litigation and that it believes “the claims are covered under our directors and officers’ liability insurance, and we have notified our insurance carriers of the claims.”

Barrett has clients with employees in 22 states and the District of Columbia through a network of 54 branch locations in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina.

It offers “professional employer organization” services. Under that system, Barrett becomes a co-employer of a client’s workforce, handling payroll, payroll taxes, workers’ compensation coverage and other administrative functions. Its staffing services include on-demand or short-term staffing, contract staffing, long-term on-site management, and direct placement. Barrett’s clients include electronics manufacturers, light-manufacturing industries, transportation enterprises, food processors and telecommunications firms.