Category: Washington

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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

Use Workshare Program to Cut Costs and Keep Workers

Are you looking for ways to hang on to staff, yet reduce costs?  Those goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive if you choose to participate in your state’s workshare program.  A workshare program allows your employees to collect some unemployment benefits but continue working part time.  Here’s an article from the Center for Law and … Continue Reading

Washington Supreme Court Decides Morgan v. Kingen – Bankruptcy is No Defense

The Washington Supreme Court issued a decision today in Morgan v. Kingen, holding that bankruptcy is not a valid defense to a willful withholding of wages under RCW 49.52.070.  The plaintiffs in this case worked at Funsters Grand Casino in SeaTac, Washington.  The casino was not a success and the owners voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy … Continue Reading

Extension of Federal Benefits to Same-Sex Partners Falls Short of Goals

The memorandum issued by President Obama yesterday extends some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, including access to a government insurance program that pays for long-term conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, and to sick leave to care for a sick same-sex partner or a non-biological child.  However, the extension did not provide eligibility … Continue Reading

Washington’s Minimum Wage To Rise to $8.55 January 1, 2009

Washington employers get ready to give your minimum-wage employees a raise:  effective January 1, 2009, Washington’s minimum wage will increase to $8.55 per hour, allowing Washington to maintain the highest minimum wage in the country.  For more information, click here to read the Department of Labor and Industries’ Press Release.  Washington’s current minimum wage is … Continue Reading

“Blonde Jokes” Support Workplace Emotional Distress Claim

Usually when I get an employment lawsuit alleging "negligent infliction of emotional distress," I chuckle to myself and immediately begin drafting a motion to dismiss.  However, a recent case out of the Washington Court of Appeals may indicate that NIED claims are not totally frivolous! In Strong v. Wright, the plaintiff sued her former supervisor because … Continue Reading

Washington: Public Policy Against Domestic Violence Supports Claim of Wrongful Discharge

Is a Washington employer prohibited from terminating an at-will employee because she took leave from work to protect herself from domestic violence?  Yes, according to last week’s opinion from the Washington Supreme Court in Danny v. Laidlaw Services.  In Danny, the plaintiff sued her former employer in federal court, alleging she was terminated for taking leave … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Asks Washington Supreme Court to Define “Disability” under WLAD

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week certified a question to the Washington Supreme Court, seeking that court’s help in defining "disability" under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD).  Two years ago, in McClarty v. Totem Electric, 137 P.3d 844 (2006), the Washington Supreme Court significantly narrowed the definition of "disability" under the WLAD.  In 2007, … Continue Reading

City of Vancouver Settles Race Discrimination Suit for 1.65 Million

The City of Vancouver, Washington announced yesterday that it will pay a former police officer $1.65 million to settle a federal retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit he filed two years ago over his termination.  To read the Oregonian’s coverage on the case, click here.  This isn’t plaintiff Navin Sharma’s first settlement with the city:  he settled another … Continue Reading
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