Washington Supreme Court Approves Trucking Industry Piece-Rate Compensation Practices

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.

Changes on the Horizon for Washington State’s Pay Equity Law: Salary History Inquiries

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.

Washington State Legislature Adopts Law Restricting Noncompetition Agreements

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.

Salary History Is Not Quite History in the Ninth Circuit, According to Supreme Court

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.

Due Process and Primary Jurisdiction Defenses to Website Accessibility Claims Fall Like Dominoes in the Ninth Circuit

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.

“Ban The Box” Turns 20: Decoding the Current Framework

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.

Process Safety Management, Union Style

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.

Recent Amendments to Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance Will Take Effect on January 1, 2018

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.

New Year, New Pay: A State-by-State Roundup of Minimum Wage Increases for 2018

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 State’s Paid Sick and Safe Leave Update: The Administrative Regulations Are Finally Final

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.

Washington State Enacts Healthy Starts Act, Requires Accommodation for Pregnant Employees Regardless of Disability

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.

Public Employers Beware: SCOTUS Refuses to Review City Employee Overtime Appeal

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).

Ninth Circuit Clarifies Employer Burden Under EPA to Justify Pay Differential

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.

Ninth Circuit Breaks New Ground, Addresses Standing and Extraneous Content in Background Check Disclosure Forms/Screens

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.

The Rising Minimum Wages and Tip Credits for 2017: An Overview

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.