On July 21, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit kept in place a ruling that local delivery drivers who made deliveries completely inside California are still engaged in interstate commerce and exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
A putative class action recently filed in Seattle, Washington, against a solar energy equipment company could be the first lawsuit to test the bounds of the state’s relatively new restrictions on noncompetition agreements for lower-wage employees.
Employers in Washington will soon be prohibited from making hiring decisions based on preemployment testing for off-the-job cannabis use or test results showing nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in an applicant’s hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. Washington’s new law, Senate Bill 5123, signed by Governor Jay Inslee on May 9, 2023, takes effect on January 1, 2024.
In 2022, Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) drafted permanent workplace safety rules aimed at protecting workers from outdoor heat exposure. On March 21, 2023, L&I filed proposed updates to the rule that would broaden the protections for outdoor workers in Washington. This continued evolution of heat illness regulations in Washington is an important development for employers with outdoor workers.
For many employers, a new year is a new opportunity to update policies, procedures, and agreements—including restrictive covenants. In addition to ensuring compliance with applicable state requirements as to timing, consideration, and restrictions, companies need to be aware of applicable compensation minimums for employees being asked to sign noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements. With the start of the new year, many states have increased minimum compensation floors for such employees.
Several state and local minimum wage rates will increase in 2023, with a majority of the changes effective on January 1, 2023. The following chart lists state and certain major locality minimum wage increases for 2023—and future years, if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees.
Analysis of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) publicly available inspection and citation data, which dates back to the 1970s, can help employers forecast and spot enforcement trends and changes, identify new and emerging issues, and correlate information to make unique connections that may not be readily apparent. To assist employers, Ogletree Deakins has developed the OSHA Tracker, a purpose-built resource designed to provide clients and consumers with easy-to-use search tools and filters to convert OSHA data into more digestible and useful information.
Beginning on January 1, 2023, Oregon will join Washington and eleven other states in providing paid family leave to all employees.
The 2023 minimum wage rate in Washington State will increase to $15.74 per hour for employees sixteen years of age and older, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries announced on September 30, 2022.
Remote work has exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with some employers hiring employees to work remotely anywhere in the United States. With the recent economic downturn, layoffs are beginning to occur, and for the first time a significant number of remote employees may be included in layoffs. Layoffs of remote employees present unique legal hazards for employers.
On June 13, 2022, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell signed into law CB 120294, a measure intended to ensure app-based delivery drivers are paid a minimum wage plus tips and compensation for expenses, increase transparency related to offers for work, and preserve worker flexibility. The App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance is part of a collection of six legislative proposals known as “PayUp,” and it is the first in the policy package to pass.
With summer weather and wildfire season approaching, Washington employers will have new seasonal workplace safety rules to take into account. On June 1, 2022, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) adopted emergency rules that add to already existing protections for outdoor workers from the summer conditions of heat exposure and wildfire smoke.
With the groundbreaking enactment of a new law relating to certain transportation network companies, rideshare drivers in Washington State will soon enjoy various benefits typically associated with employee status while retaining the independence and flexibility of their independent contractor status.
On March 30, 2022, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 5761, a measure that requires employers to affirmatively disclose in each job posting open to applicants the salary range or wage scale to be offered, as well as a general description of all benefits and other compensation for the position.
The Washington Legislature recently voted to send the Silenced No More Act (Engrossed Substitute House Bill [ESHB] 1795) to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for signature. As currently drafted, the proposed legislation would prohibit nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions in agreements between employers and employees regarding “illegal acts of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, and sexual assault.” The following provides a summary of the bill’s key provisions.
On December 22, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) ordering it to not collect premiums under the Washington Cares Fund program until the legislature addresses some of the law’s issues. The letter acknowledged that “legislative leadership has strongly encouraged the employer community to pause collection of premiums from employees.”
In 2022, while the federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour for non-tipped employees and $2.13 per hour for tipped employees, several states’ minimum wage rates will increase. The chart below lists the state (and certain major locality) minimum wage rate increases for 2022—and future years if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees.
On December 17, 2021, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins released a joint statement announcing that the premium assessment under the Washington Cares Fund would be delayed. Employers had been set to collect premiums from Washington employees starting on January 1, 2022, but with this announcement, state leaders have “strongly encourage[d]” employers to “pause on collecting premiums.”
In May 2019, Washington State enacted restrictions on the enforceability of noncompetition covenants. The law, which took effect on January 1, 2020, requires the state to annually adjust the income thresholds for workers who are subject to noncompetition covenants.
In 2021, Washington established a long-term care benefit program for Washington workers called the WA Cares Fund. In short, the program implements a mandatory 0.58 percent payroll deduction on employee wages to create a state trust fund, which, beginning in 2025, will be used to fund certain long-term care costs for eligible Washington workers. Each eligible Washington worker is entitled to a lifetime benefit of up to $36,500, which will be adjusted annually for inflation. The regulatory scheme implementing the program is still being developed, and we will update the below information on our Washington blog about the program as the regulatory rules are finalized and implemented.
On April 14, 2021, Washington governor Jay Inslee signed into law Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1206, creating new requirements for staffing agencies and worksite employers utilizing temporary employees to provide training on workplace safety and health hazards. Under the new law, worksite employers must notify staffing agencies about the anticipated job hazards temporary employees will likely encounter, and provide specific training to temporary employees on those hazards.
On January 25, 2021, the Seattle City Council approved Council Bill 119990 (also referred to as the “hazard pay ordinance”), which establishes $4 per hour COVID-19 hazard pay for grocery employees working in the City of Seattle. Below is a chart summarizing the key provisions of the hazard pay ordinance.
Several states’ minimum wage rates will increase in 2021. The following chart lists the state (and certain major locality) minimum wage increases for 2021—and future years, if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees.
On November 13, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued a travel advisory for Washington State recommending a 14-day quarantine for all persons entering the state and encouraging residents to stay close to home.
Elections in the United States are scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Not only will the office of president of the United States be contested, but all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for grabs. At the state level, elections will be held for the governorships of 11 U.S. states and 2 U.S. territories.
In May 2019, Washington enacted restrictions on noncompetition covenants, which we wrote about in our article, “Washington State Governor Signs Legislation Restricting Noncompetition Covenants,” and which took effect on January 1, 2020.