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Karin Jones provides practical advice to employers regarding a wide variety of workplace and personnel issues and helps employers minimize the risk and impact of workplace problems.  When litigation arises, she represents employers before administrative agencies and the state and federal courts.  Karin has experience representing employers in disputes involving discrimination, harassment, reasonable accommodation, employee family and medical leave, wage and hour claims, workplace safety (WISHA/OSHA), and whistleblower complaints, among other workplace issues.

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On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued a stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) COVID vaccine-or-test rule for large employers. Although the OSHA rule is effectively off the table, there are still a host of COVID rules that employers must comply with.

Stoel Rives has created an interactive map

Mask Mandate

Effective August 23, 2021, masks will once again be required in indoor public spaces in Washington, regardless of vaccination status, for everyone over the age of five.  Masks will not be required for vaccinated employees in office spaces that are not public-facing, but are still required for unvaccinated employees in such offices.  Masks

On May 21, 2021, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (“L&I”) published new guidance regarding fully vaccinated workers.  The new guidance will help employers adjust masking policies to meet the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidelines adopted by Governor Jay Inslee.

Under the new guidance, most Washington employers need not require

For the past year, Washington employers have been required to accommodate those employees characterized by the CDC as being at high risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. Required accommodations can include allowing those employees to take extended leaves of absence if alternative work assignments, telework, remote work locations, or social distancing measures are

The 2020 presidential election, coupled with nationwide civil unrest and a global pandemic, is creating a lot of conversation in employees’ personal and professional lives. In a February 2020 survey, employees reported:

  • 78% discuss politics at work;
  • 47% said the discussion of politics negatively impacted their performance;
  • 33% take in more political news at

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently modified its guidance regarding leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). These changes pertain most significantly to the applicability of FFCRA leave to employees of health care providers and the intermittent use of FFCRA. The changes – which take effect on September 16, 2020 – are a response, in part, to a recent New York federal district court opinion invalidating some of the DOL’s prior guidance. (See here.)

Here’s what you need to know about the DOL’s new guidance:

Health Care Providers. The DOL narrowed the applicability of the FFCRA exemption for health care providers.  Under the new guidance, not all employees of health care providers are exempt from FFCRA. Only the following employees may be excluded: (1) licensed doctors of medicine, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, dentists, and others permitted to issue FMLA certifications under 29 C.F.R. 825.125; and (2) employees who provide diagnostic, preventive, or treatment services, or “other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care and, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care.” This exemption includes, among others, nurses, medical technicians, and laboratory technicians. We recommend that health care providers seeking to exempt some employees from FFCRA talk to their legal counsel about whether the exemption applies.

The DOL encourages health care providers to minimize use of the exemption to the extent possible in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employers may choose to allow some types of FFCRA leave (e.g., leave for employees with COVID-19 symptoms) and not others (e.g., childcare leave).
Continue Reading Department of Labor Narrows FFCRA Exemption for Health Care Providers and Affirms Guidance Regarding Intermittent Leave

On August 3, 2020, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York held that four provisions of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Final Rule (the Final Rule) implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) are invalid.  This ruling is limited for now, as the court did not issue a nation-wide injunction, but its reasoning could be applied in other jurisdictions around the country.  For that reason, employers should be aware that changes to FFCRA obligations may be forthcoming.

As we discussed in a previous post, the FFCRA obligates employers to offer sick leave and expanded family leave to employees who cannot work because of certain reasons related to the pandemic.  At issue here are two major provisions of the FFCRA: Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), which entitles employees to partially paid leave to care for a dependent child due to COVID-19 school or daycare closures, and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who are experiencing one of six qualifying COVID-19-related circumstances.  (See here for additional information.)

After concluding that New York had standing to challenge DOL’s Final Rule, the court considered the validity of four provisions: the work-availability requirement, the definition of health care provider, the prohibition on intermittent leave, and the documentation requirements.
Continue Reading New York Federal District Court Rules Four Provisions of COVID-19 Paid Leave Rule Invalid

On July 1, 2020, legislation went into effect providing additional protections for certain hotel and motel employees in Seattle.  The legislation was enacted to protect Seattle hotel workers from harassment and discrimination, unsafe workloads, and job insecurity and to provide increased access to medical care.

Hotel Employees Safety Protections

In hotels and motels with 60

The legal landscape continues to shift rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  As we reported here and here, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) guidance allows employers to require employee temperature checks, as well as worker testing aimed at detecting COVID-19, even though such testing by an employer would ordinarily raise issues under the Americans with