Category: Washington

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Washington Supreme Court Finds Employer’s Discretionary Bonus Not Unlawful “Rebate” Under Wage Rebate Act (“WRA”)

In a 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled in an employer’s favor and clarified what are, and are not, statutory “wages” and unlawful wage “rebates” under Washington State’s Wage Rebate Act (“WRA”), RCW 49.52 et seq.  The case is LaCoursiere v. CamWest Development, No. 88298-3 (Wash. Oct. 23, 2014) (slip op.).  Camwest Development … Continue Reading

Washington Court of Appeals Expands “Jeopardy” Element of Claim for Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy

This month the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III issued a ruling in Becker v. Community Health Systems, Inc. that expands protections in a wrongful termination action based on violation of a public policy. In Becker, the Plaintiff, a former chief financial officer for Community Health Systems, Inc. (“CHS”), alleged that while CHS initially … Continue Reading

Washington Court of Appeals Holds Independent Contractors Are Protected from Retaliation by the Washington Law Against Discrimination

The Washington courts are strict in their interpretation of the classification of individuals as employees versus independent contractors, resulting in many an employer discovering that an “independent contractor” is instead an employee. But the Washington Court of Appeals’ recent ruling in Currier v. Northland Services, Inc., confirms that even those individuals who qualify as bona fide … Continue Reading

Washington State Supreme Court’s Decision on Religious Accommodation: What It Means for Employers

Employers in Washington should take note of last week’s decision from the Washington State Supreme Court holding that state law allows a claim for failure to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices. That result is hardly surprising, but how the Court reached that result, and its other conclusions along the way, will complicate how businesses … Continue Reading

Washington Supreme Court Holds That the WLAD Exemption for Non-Profit Religious Organizations is Unconstitutional as Applied to Certain Employees

The Washington Supreme Court has significantly limited non-profit religious organizations’ immunity from employment discrimination claims brought under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”), RCW 49.60. In Ockletree v. Franciscan Health System, the majority held that the exemption of non-profit religious organizations from the definition of “employer” in the WLAD is unconstitutional as applied in circumstances … Continue Reading

New Seattle Job Assistance Ordinance Limits Employers’ Reliance on Criminal Records

Seattle employers are about to become much more restricted in their ability to inquire into or act upon the criminal records of applicants and employees. On November 1st, the Seattle Job Assistance Ordinance, SMC 14.17, takes effect and will apply to positions that are based in Seattle at least half of the time. The Ordinance does not … Continue Reading

Washington Court Affirms That Anti-Retaliation Laws Protect HR Employees

The Washington Court of Appeals recently determined that state anti-discrimination laws prohibit retaliation against human resources and legal professionals who oppose discrimination as part of their normal job duties. The court also declined to extend the same actor inference, a defense against discrimination claims, to retaliation claims. Lodis worked at Corbis Holdings as a vice president … Continue Reading

Countdown to Washington’s New Hazardous Drugs Rule

In 2014, Washington health care employers will be required to comply with the Department of Labor and Industries’ (“L&I’s”) new Hazardous Drugs Rule.   While today that may seem like the distant future, savvy employers will take time in 2013 to implement measures in compliance with the new rule before the deadline to do so creeps … Continue Reading

Washington State Marijuana Legalization Law Need Not Affect Employer Drug Testing Policies

There are many sound reasons why employers have zero tolerance policies and engage in drug testing of applicants and/or employees, including customer requirements, government contracting requirements (e.g.,the federal Drug Free Workplace Act), federal or state laws (including DOT requirements for transportation workers), workplace safety, productivity, health and absenteeism, and liability.  Some Washington state employers may … Continue Reading

Washington Law Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination Not Retroactive

On September 13, the Washington Supreme Court held that a 2006 amendment to the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, does not apply retroactively. But the Court also held that evidence of pre-amendment harassment is admissible to show why post-amendment conduct is discriminatory. … Continue Reading

City of Seattle’s New Paid Sick and Safe Time Law To Take Effect in September 2012

  As most Seattle employers know by now and as we blogged about earlier, beginning September 1, 2012, the City of Seattle will require that all but the smallest employers provide paid sick leave to their Seattle employees. Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) mandates that most employers provide paid leave, which increases depending … Continue Reading

Washington Appeals Court Holds No Religious Accommodation Required Under WLAD

In Short v. Battle Ground School District, Division II of the Washington Court of Appeals held last week that Washington’s Law Against Discrimination, which makes it unlawful for employers to discharge employees because of creed, does not require employers to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs. Julie Short, a devout Christian, was employed as an assistant to … Continue Reading

Victory For Employers in Washington Medical Marijuana Case

In a victory for employers, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that Washington’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act (“MUMA”) does not protect medical marijuana users from adverse hiring or disciplinary decisions based on an employer’s drug test policy. Click here to download a copy of the decision in Roe v. Teletech Customer Care Management. The lawsuit and … Continue Reading

WISHA Amendment Impacts Washington Employers’ Obligations to Correct Serious Safety Violations During Appeals

Washington employers appealing citations for serious safety violations are about to face a new element to the appeal process.  An amendment to the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (“WISHA”), signed into law on April 15, 2011, will make it more difficult for employers to avoid immediate abatement of the underlying workplace hazard during the … Continue Reading

Medical Marijuana and Zero Tolerance Drug Testing Policies Remain An Issue For Employers

Employers and the courts continue to wrestle with issues involving “zero tolerance” drug testing policies and whether employers must accommodate medical marijuana use by their employees. Marijuana use is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and therefore does not need to be accommodated under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). However, 15 states currently have … Continue Reading

More Employers Resorting to No-Nicotine Hiring Policies

Check out this Washington Healthcare News article authored by Stoel Rives Labor and Employment attorneys Keelin Curran and Karin Jones, in which they discuss the developing trend of strict no-smoking policies in the workplace, including no-nicotine hiring practices. Research indicates that smokers impose significant additional health and disability costs on employers, and experience twice as many illness-related absences … Continue Reading

Oregon Supreme Court: Employers Are Not Required to Accommodate Medical Marijuana

Yesterday the Oregon Supreme Court conclusively ruled that employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the workplace, ending years of doubt and confusion on this critical issue. Click here to read the Court’s opinion in Emerald Steel Fabricators, Inc. v. Bureau of Labor and Industries. In Emerald Steel, a drill … Continue Reading

Washington Domestic Partnership Law Impacts Employee Benefits and Family Leave

Washington voters recently approved Referendum 71, giving registered domestic partners all of the rights and responsibilities of married couples under Washington state law.   Prior domestic partnership laws gave registered domestic partners limited rights and responsibilities such as hospital visitation, health care decision making, inheritance and community property rights.  The new law includes all of the rights … Continue Reading

Washington Court of Appeals Upholds Termination Where Medical Marijuana Use Caused Drug Test Failure

Note:  On April 1, 2010, the Washington Supreme Court granted review of the Court of Appeals decision discussed in this entry.  A final ruling on the case will be issued by the Washington Supreme Court at a later date.   A Washington Court of Appeals has ruled that Washington’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act (“MUMA”) … Continue Reading

President Obama Orders Federal Employees Not to Text While Driving

Last week, President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting all federal employees from text messaging while driving on official business or while using government equipment.  Click here to read President Obama’s executive order on texting while driving.  While President Obama’s order does not effect private employers, it does directs federal agencies to encourage contractors and their … Continue Reading

Washington Minimum Wage to Remain $8.55/Hour in 2010

Washington’s minimum wage will remain $8.55 per hour in 2010, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) announced this week.  Click here to view L&I’s press release on the 2010 Washington minimum wage.     L&I recalculates the state’s minimum wage each year as required by Initiative 688, which requires that the minimum wage be increased … Continue Reading

Washington Supreme Court Upholds Employer’s Right to Fire Workers who Protest Bad Boss

Sometimes the Washington Supreme Court pleasantly surprises employers. Today is one of those days. The Court issued its decision today in Briggs v. Nova Services. The plaintiffs in this case were eight employees of Nova Services, a non-profit social services organization in Washington. The employees apparently had major problems with the executive director who was appointed by the board, … Continue Reading
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