On March 23, 2020, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed the Stay Home – Stay Healthy Order (Proclamation 20-25, the “Order,” linked here) directing Washingtonians to shelter in place. The Order follows similar state and local directives throughout the nation put in place to address the coronavirus crisis. With over 100 dead from COVID-19-related causes in Washington State as of the date of the Order, the Order seeks to slow further transmission of the virus and protect the capacity of businesses deemed essential in the State of Washington.
Articles About Washington Labor And Employment Law.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has issued a Stay Home – Stay Healthy Proclamation that restricts certain social and recreational activities, closes non-essential businesses, and requires social distancing at essential businesses. Under the Proclamation, starting at 12:00 a.m. on March 25, 2020, all non-essential businesses in Washington must close. The Proclamation remains in place until at least April 6, 2020.
On December 11, 2019, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries announced its final rule amending Washington State’s white collar overtime exemption regulations. If not overridden by the Legislature or successfully challenged in court, the rule will radically increase the pay rates necessary to qualify for the white collar exemptions in Washington State.
The Washington State Supreme Court ruled recently that state employees’ birthdates associated with their names are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to a freedom of information records request. In so holding, the Court strictly construed the applicable statute that did not expressly exempt birthdates from disclosure. Wash. Pub. Emps. Assn. v. State Ctr for Childhood Deafness & Hearing Loss. Private and public entities across the country that respond to countless requests for information may want to rethink their approach.
Executive Summary: On October 11, 2019, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that Washington state’s paid sick leave law does not violate the Constitution or federal preemption law, thereby guaranteeing sick leave benefits for airline flight crew employees based in Washington.
On September 5, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court confirmed that non-agricultural employers may use a workweek averaging methodology to satisfy the Washington Minimum Wage Act in Valerie Sampson et al v. Knight Transportation Inc. et al. In other words, non-agricultural employers can satisfy their state minimum wage obligations by showing that an employee’s total wages for a workweek, when divided by the total hours worked during that week, results in a figure that is equal to or greater than the state minimum wage.
The state of Washington has weighed in on the debate as to whether obesity is a disability under disability discrimination laws. In Taylor v. Burlington Northern Railroad Holdings Inc., a case that wound its way through the courts for nine years, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified this question to the Washington Supreme Court: “Under what circumstances, if any, does obesity qualify as an ‘impairment’ under the [WLAD]?” The Washington Supreme Court responded by holding that obesity is always an impairment under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) because it is a “’physiological disorder, or condition’ that affects multiple body systems listed in the statute.” Therefore, an employer who takes employment action against an individual because the employer perceives the individual to be obese, may run afoul of the WLAD.
Washington’s highest court has ruled that obesity is always an “impairment” under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), regardless of whether obesity is related to some other medical condition. Accordingly, treating job applicants or employees adversely based on their actual or perceived obesity is unlawful disability discrimination unless the obesity conflicts with a bona fide occupational qualification or prevents the worker from properly performing the job. The court did not define obesity, however, and did not address whether an employer’s knowledge of an individual’s weight or body mass index alone can trigger a duty to consider reasonable accommodation.
The Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) has pushed back the first reporting deadline under this new law to August 31, 2019. By that date, all Washington employers must file reports about their employees, including their wages and associated hours worked during the first two quarters of 2019.
On June 5, 2019, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries issued proposed amendments to Washington State’s white-collar overtime exemption regulations.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently signed two bills addressing sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Both bills require covered hospitality employers and adult entertainment establishments to provide panic buttons for covered workers.
As we noted last month, Washington’s efforts to follow California’s lead in passing its own GDPR-like law have stalled after the bill failed to make its way through state’s House of Representatives—despite overwhelming approval in the Senate (where it passed 46-1). That bill’s sponsor has promised to revisit the issue during the 2020 legislative session.
On May 9, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1696, the state’s most recent pay equity legislation, which the bill claims is an “additional step towards gender equality.”1
On May 8, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1450 (HB 1450), radically altering the law governing noncompetition agreements and moonlighting prohibitions in Washington State. The bill will become effective on January 1, 2020, but includes provisions for retroactivity. Employers with Washington operations that have (or want) such agreements with their employees, or that are considering hiring individuals who have entered into such agreements with other employers, need to understand the new restrictions.
On May 8, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law HB 1450, described as “AN ACT Relating to restraints, including noncompetition covenants, on persons engaging in lawful professions, trades, or businesses[.]” While the Act does not take effect until January 1, 2020, its restrictions apply retroactively to existing agreements signed