For 20 years, public agencies in Washington State have been barred from favoring or discriminating against applicants, employees, or contractors based on sex, ethnicity, color, race, or national origin. On the last day of its regular 2019 session, April 28, 2019, the Washington State legislature eased that bar, passing the Washington State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act, proposed by the citizens of Washington State as Initiative 1000 (I-1000). I-1000 becomes effective 90 days after the end of the regular legislative session, July 27, 2019.
Articles About Washington Labor And Employment Law.
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 before that date.
Washington is the latest state to pass additional pay equity protections. One year after enacting the 2018 Equal Pay and Opportunity Act, which included an array of enhanced pay equity provisions, the legislature passed HB 1696, which restricts pay history inquires and enhances pay transparency requirements. The bill passed on a near party-line vote. Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign the legislation, which would go into effect 90 days later.
It was looking like Washington state would be the first state to follow the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), with a GDPR-like law of its own. That effort has stalled, perhaps temporarily. However, both Washington’s House and Senate voted unanimously to send HB 1071 to Gov. Jay Inslee, which would substantially expand the state’s current data breach notification obligations.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), passed in 2018 and taking effect January 1, 2020, is considered the most expansive state privacy law in the United States, and sparked a flurry of state privacy law legislative proposals, in particular in Washington state. This January, a group of state senators in Washington introduced the Washington Privacy Act, SB 5376 (WPA), slightly updated in late February. On March 6th, the bill passed the Senate with a nearly unanimous vote, and now heads to the House for review. If approved, the WPA will take effect July 31, 2021.
For employers with Washington State operations, what happened in 2018 does not necessarily stay in 2018. Those bidding 2018 farewell cannot say goodbye to various paid sick and safe time (PSST) policy, notice, and leave calculation obligations in 2019. Additionally, employers with unionized workforces in Seattle have limited time to except themselves from city standards that exceed state law requirements, and employers subject to SeaTac’s PSST law must balance local year-end cash-out requirements with the state law carryover mandate.
On July 27, 2018, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed into law the Domestic Worker Ordinance (“the DWO”). Effective July 1, 2019, the ordinance is expected to impact approximately 33,000 domestic workers in Seattle. The new law mirrors similar efforts in several states to expand employment rights to domestic workers.
Seattle, Washington’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) revised its rules concerning the Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance. The rules come about a year-and-a-half after the Ordinance was amended to better align with the state PSST law, which took effect January 1, 2018. Unsurprisingly, in many instances the revised rules incorporate state law standards. Although many revisions are merely linguistic changes that do not substantively alter existing rules, there are notable changes and deletions we will highlight, along with a new non-PSST rule that will affect leave management.
A landmark law giving drivers of app-based transportation companies, such as Uber and Lyft, the right to collectively bargain is not preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, a three-member panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. City of Seattle, No. 17-35640 (9th Cir. May 11, 2018).
Washington has adopted four new laws addressing workplace harassment and discrimination. Three prohibit limitations on an employee’s disclosure or public pursuit of discrimination or harassment claims, while the fourth requires the Washington State Human Rights Commission to develop model sexual harassment policies and “best practices” for employers. While these laws were motivated primarily by the #MeToo movement, one of them broadly attacks agreements for the private resolution of discrimination claims generally. The laws take effect on June 7, 2018.1
Washington State has joined a number of other jurisdictions, including the Washington cities of Seattle and Spokane, by passing a “ban-the-box” law, known as the Washington Fair Chance Act (HB 1298). The Act prohibits employers from obtaining any information about an applicant’s criminal record (whether by a question on an application for employment, inquiring orally or in writing, receiving information through a criminal history background check, or otherwise) until after the employer initially determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. It makes it unlawful for employers to advertise employment openings in a way that excludes people with criminal records from applying, or to implement a policy or practice that automatically or categorically excludes individuals with a criminal record from consideration prior to an initial determination that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. Once the employer has initially determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified, the law does not restrict the employer from inquiring into or obtain information about a criminal record, although it also does not limit any existing restrictions that apply.
A new Washington law (SB 6027) impacts the scope of discovery of a plaintiff’s medical records in litigation brought under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”). The law will become effective on June 7, 2018.
Effective June 7, 2018, Washington State amended its domestic violence leave law to require employers to provide reasonable safety accommodations to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and to incorporate additional prohibitions on discriminating or retaliating against actual or perceived victims of domestic violence.1
Washington State has joined the ranks of jurisdictions that have adopted expanded equal pay legislation.1 The Equal Pay Opportunity Act (EPOA) was signed into law on March 21, 2018, and will take effect on June 7, 2018.2 The EPOA significantly expands Washington’s existing gender pay law for the first time since its enactment in 1943.3
Responding to the national “#MeToo” movement, Washington has enacted four new workplace laws intended primarily to protect victims of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.