Last year, the Washington Supreme Court considered the following certified question: “Does the Washington Minimum Wage Act require non-agricultural employers to pay their piece-rate employees per hour for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate work?” On September 5, 2019, the court answered with a resounding no.
As of July 28, 2019, Washington employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide reasonable break time for employees to express breast milk.
Like many other states, Washington recently adopted legislation seemingly preventing the arbitration of harassment and discrimination claims in direct response to the #MeToo movement.
On May 8, 2019, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed new restrictions on noncompetition covenants for Washington employees. The new restrictions are effective January 1, 2020.
On May 9, 2019, Washington State governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1696, “an act relating to wage and salary information.” The new law is similar to legislation being promulgated throughout the country, including by Washington’s neighbor to the south, Oregon. This law will become effective on July 28, 2019.
After several years of failed attempts, the state of Washington passed a law on April 17, 2019 that will significantly limit the enforceability of noncompetition agreements under Washington law. Governor Jay Inslee has not yet signed the act into law, but it is expected that Governor Inslee will promptly do so.
On February 25, 2019, in a much awaited decision, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a per curiam ruling in Yovino v. Rizo, No. 18-272, 586 U.S. ___ (2019). Rather than address the substantive issue of whether an employer may rely on salary history to establish starting pay under the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Court vacated and remanded the matter on a procedural—yet still important—issue.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its highly-anticipated website accessibility opinion in Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, reaffirming the obligation to make retailers’ websites accessible and rejecting the due process and primary jurisdiction arguments commonly asserted by defendants in website accessibility litigation.
Although the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has yet to finalize the new annual salary required for exempt status, it intends to propose a new salary basis test that would more than double the current federal salary threshold.
In 2019, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase.
On June 12, 2018, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order that directs Washington agencies to favor government contractors that do not require employees to submit to individual arbitration of claims.
Twenty years ago, on a warm summer day, Hawaii enacted a restriction on employer inquiries into an applicant’s work history until after a conditional offer of employment. Intended to give applicants with criminal histories a fair shot at employment, the law—the first state “ban the box” law—crystalized a movement that, in time, would yield similar restrictions in 12 states and 17 localities (for private employers). The result is a crisscrossing jumble of requirements with little uniformity, putting employers in a difficult position when dealing with applicants (and sometimes even existing employees) in different jurisdictions.
Washington recently passed a law limiting discovery of medical records and other medical information for discrimination claims brought under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). The law went into effect on June 7, 2018.
On July 24, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Munro v. University of Southern California, No. 17-55550, that an employer/fiduciary of a 401(k) plan cannot force a fiduciary breach claim under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) section 502(a)(2) into arbitration.
In response to the #MeToo movement, lawmakers in several states are introducing bills aimed at curbing workplace sexual harassment and addressing how complaints and resolutions are handled by employers. Washington is no exception, and the Washington state Legislature has passed three bills focused on new laws relating to sexual harassment.
If you’ve ever wondered what a process safety standard drafted by a union would look like, the State of Washington’s recent draft Process Safety Requirements for Petroleum Refineries provides a glimpse. Using California’s 2017 Process Safety Management for Petroleum Refineries as its baseline, Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries released a draft of a process safety management standard that would apply to the state’s 5 petroleum refineries.
The City of Spokane, Washington, recently enacted Ordinance No. C-35564, making Spokane the second municipality (joining Seattle) in Washington state to “ban the box.”
With Washington State’s paid sick leave law taking effect on January 1, 2018, Washington employers should be prepared to implement statewide policies in addition to policies covering employees in SeaTac, Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma. However, employers should not overlook changes to the Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance that were adopted on December 15, 2017.
In 2018, the federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour for non-tipped employees and $2.13 per hour for tipped employees. The following table summarizes the statewide minimum wage increases that have been announced for 2018, along with the related changes to the maximum tip credit permitted and minimum cash wage allowed for tipped employees.
Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has now concluded its process for drafting and finalizing the regulations for implementing Washington’s paid sick leave law, which becomes effective on January 1, 2018. Now employers can finish drafting legally compliant paid sick leave policies. The complementary enforcement regulations are still a work in progress and are not expected to be finalized until at least mid-December 2017.
The new Washington state Healthy Starts Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide accommodations to pregnant employees above and beyond those accommodations required by other available laws, including the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). Some of the required accommodations must be provided without medical certification and regardless of whether such accommodations would create an undue hardship.
“Once an employer becomes aware of the need for accommodation, that employer has a mandatory obligation under the ADA to engage in an interactive process with the employee to identify and implement appropriate reasonable accommodations.”
Can an employer’s perceived preferential treatment of an alleged rapist create a hostile work environment for the female employee who reported the rape? The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a jury should determine the answer to that question.
With Governor Inslee’s signature on July 5, 2017, Washington State joined just a handful of states mandating paid family and medical leave. Washington’s leave is funded by both employers and employees, and employees will be eligible to receive benefits beginning in 2020.
On May 15, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected the City of San Gabriel, California’s attempt to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s expansive interpretation of what employers must include as “wages” when establishing the regular rate of pay to calculate overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
On April 27, 2017, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded a district court’s ruling denying an employer’s motion for summary judgment on an Equal Pay Act (EPA) claim. In so doing, the court reaffirmed precedent and reinforced how an employer can use prior pay to account for a pay differential between male and female employees.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that whether a nursing staffing coordinator met the administrative exemption from federal overtime requirements is a factual issue that must be decided at trial.
On January 20, 2017, the Ninth Circuit became the first court of appeals to weigh in on several important legal issues for expensive, increasingly common background check class actions—specifically (a) the extraneous content and language in an employer’s background check disclosure forms and online screens that violate the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and (b) the standing requirements to file background check claims. In Syed v. M-I, LLC, the Ninth Circuit held that (1) inclusion of a liability release in an employment background check disclosure is a willful violation of the FCRA, subjecting an employer to expensive statutory and punitive damages, and (2) this kind of violation results in a concrete harm that satisfies Article III standing, as recently clarified by the Supreme Court of the United States in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins.
Effective January 1, 2017, 29 states plus the District of Columbia will have minimum wage rates that are above the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. The District of Columbia will continue to have, as it did last year, one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country at $11.50 per hour until July 1, 2017, and $12.50 per hour after that date. With respect to state minimum wages, Massachusetts and Washington will have the highest minimum wages at $11.00 per hour effective January 1, 2017, with California close behind at $10.50 per hour (for employers with 26 or more employees), effective January 1, 2017, and Connecticut following at $10.10 per hour, effective January 1, 2017.