Washington Employment Law Update — May 2019

Washington

Equal Pay and Opportunities Act

On May 9, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation (H.B. 1969) enacting the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act. Under the act, an employer may not:

  • Seek the wage or salary history of an applicant or a current or former employee; or
  • Require that an applicant’s prior wage or salary history meet certain criteria.

However, an employer may confirm an applicant’s wage history or salary history:

  • If the applicant voluntarily disclosed either; or
  • After negotiating and making an employment offer to the applicant with compensation.

The act also includes the following terms for employers with 15 or more employees:

  • An applicant may request and receive the minimum wage or salary for the position to which he or she applied.
  • An internally transferred employee may request and receive the wage scale or salary ranges for his or her new position.

The law is effective July 28, 2019.

Read WA H.B. 1696

Noncompetition Agreements

On May 8, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation (H.B. 1450) related to restraints, including noncompetition covenants, on persons engaging in lawful professions, trades, or businesses. Under the law, agreements limiting competition or hiring may be contracts of adhesion that may be unreasonable.

The law is effective January 1, 2020.

Read WA H.B. 1450

Construction Workers and Sick Leave

On April 30, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation (S.B. 5233) creating an alternative process for construction workers represented by collective-bargaining agreements regarding their sick leave benefits. Under the law, the state’s paid sick leave provisions (located at Wash. Rev. Code §§ 49.46.200 – 49.46.830) do not apply to construction workers covered by a collective-bargaining agreement when all of the following apply:

  • The union signatory to the collective-bargaining agreement is an approved, authorized referral union program.
  • The collective-bargaining agreement establishes equivalent sick leave provisions to the state’s paid sick leave law, except the payment of leave at the normal hourly compensation may occur before usage.
  • The requirements of the state’s paid sick leave law are expressly waived in the collective-bargaining agreement in clear and unambiguous terms or in an addendum to an existing agreement, including an agreement that is open for negotiation, so long as the sick leave portions were previously ratified by the membership.

The law is effective July 28, 2019.

Read WA S.B. 5233

Mandatory Domestic Violence Poster

On April 20, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation (H.B. 1533) requiring the Washington Employment Security Department to create, and provide on its website, a domestic violence employment poster. The poster must include a space where an employer must provide the name(s) of domestic violence community resources. Employers must conspicuously post this poster where other required employment posters are located. The law does not create any liability for any person or entity for any acts or omissions.

The law is effective July 28, 2019.

Read WA H.B. 1533

Confidentiality of Workers’ Compensation Claim Records

On April 14, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation (H.B. 1909) protecting the confidentiality of industrial insurance claims records (workers’ compensation claim records) by imposing a $1,000 civil penalty on employers, or their duly authorized representative, that reveal information about a mental health condition or treatment that is in an individual’s claim file to anyone other than that who is authorized to receive such information (a duly authorized representative). Information contained in workers’ compensation claim files, and records of injured workers, are confidential and may not be open to public inspection (other than to public employees in the performance of their official duties). However, representatives of a claimant, be it an individual or an organization, may review a claim file or receive specific information therefrom upon the presentation of the signed authorization of the claimant.

The law is effective July 28, 2019.

Read WA H.B. 1909

Breastfeeding as a Workplace Reasonable Accommodation

On April 24, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation (H.B. 1930) amending the Washington Healthy Starts Act’s workplace accommodation provisions by including:

  • The need to express breast milk within the definition of pregnancy; and
  • That providing reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for two years after the child’s birth is a reasonable accommodation for the employee’s pregnancy.

Reasonable break time must be granted each time the employee needs to express her milk, and the employer must provide a private location at the workplace, other than a bathroom, which may be used by the employee to express her breast milk. If the business does not have a space for the employee to express milk, the employer must work with the employee to identify a convenient location and work schedule to otherwise accommodate her needs.

The law is effective July 28, 2019.

Read WA H.B. 1930

Wage Payment Upon Employee’s Death

On April 19, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation (S.B. 5831) increasing the amount an indebted employer must pay to the survivors of a deceased employee to $10,000. Specifically, if at the time of an employee’s death, his or her employer is indebted to him or her for work, labor, and services performed, and there is no executor or administrator appointed to the employee’s estate, the employer must (upon the request of the surviving spouse) pay the indebtedness due up to $10,000 to the surviving spouse. If the decedent leaves no surviving spouse, payment must be made to the decedent’s child or children, or if no children, to the decedent’s father or mother.

The law is effective July 28, 2019.

Read WA S.B. 5831