Learn your rights

Seattle Employment Law Attorneys

Every day, hardworking employees across Washington state become victims of Employment Law violations. This can leave you feeling ashamed, confused, angry, anxious, and afraid. Often, employees feel like they can’t say anything or they may lose their job or ruin their careers. If you are experiencing issues at work due to harassment, discrimination, wage issues, or any other violation of your worker’s rights, call Emery | Reddy, PLLC today to speak to an experienced Intake Specialist for a Free Case Review and to learn how we may be able to help you with your claim.

Workers’ Rights in Washington State

Washington state employees are protected by several state and federal laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is one of the federal bodies that make and regulate the laws that protect workers’ rights. Some of those protections for workers include:

  • Receiving equal pay for equal work.
  • Receiving reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs, disability, or pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  • Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
  • Reporting discrimination or other labor violations without fear of retaliation.

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) protects workers further by ensuring that employees:

  • Work in a safe and healthy environment.
  • Receive meal and rest breaks.
  • Are paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked.
  • Receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
  • Accrue and be allowed to use paid sick leave hours.
  • Are paid tips and service charges.
  • Are able to discuss potential violations of these rights with your employer.


Watch This Video to Learn More about the Most Common Employment Law Violations

What to Do When Your Rights Are Violated

It can be scary, confusing, and upsetting when you’re facing harassment or discrimination at work, have been wrongfully terminated, or have had your paycheck shorted with no explanation. Here are some tips for how to handle workplace employment violations.

Compile documentation: A case requires evidence, so it is important to document everything in writing, including notes taken by hand, and to keep copies at home (not at work) in a digital format along with a hard copy. State the facts of what happened, including:

  • Who was involved and nearby,
  • Where the incident took place,
  • The time and date, and
  • Witness statements.

A note about recording: Washington is a two-party consent state, which means you cannot record another person without their permission.

Read your employee handbook: If your employer has an employee manual or handbook, it’s important to read through it and keep a copy of it at home. Not only do employers outline their policies and procedures in such documentation, but many will also have a process for dealing with workplace issues that are detailed within, like how to report it and to whom. Reading your employee handbook can answer a lot of questions for you and leave you better prepared if you end up needing to consult an employment attorney.

Contact Human Resources: Most companies require their employees to report workplace issues to human resources as a first step. Besides hiring new employees and managing benefits, human resources representatives are trained to help resolve problems at work, from disagreements with co-workers to more serious concerns like harassment or safety violations. Their loyalty lies with the company, however, and if they aren’t taking your claim seriously, it may be time to contact an Employment Law attorney.

Visit the EEOC and L&I websites: The EEOC lists the federal laws and regulations that employers must follow. Additionally, while most people think of L&I as the Washington workers’ compensation organization, it also oversees Washington state laws and regulations regarding workers’ rights. Reviewing both websites can further educate you on your rights and help you decide if you need to consult an Employment Law attorney.

Examples of Employment Law Violations

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Violations

When an employee requests an accommodation due to a disability in order to continue working, the employer must engage in an interactive process with the worker to identify a reasonable accommodation. This means that if you request a reasonable accommodation, your employer must work with you to come up with a solution that allows you to continue working. However, few employers know the law, and many simply refuse to follow it.

Equal Pay and Opportunity Act (EPOA)Violations

Washington state employers must post clear salary information on all job applications under the updated Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA). The pay transparency law applies to any employer that does business in Washington state with 15+ employees and at least one of those employees is Washington-based. If your employer breaks the salary transparency law, you could be entitled to $5,000 in damages, as well as attorney’s fees.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML) Violations

Many employers don’t realize that their workers do not have to specifically ask for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees are not required to mention the FMLA when requesting leave. In fact, assuming adequate notice, simply verbally stating a need for leave is enough.

Labor Union Disputes
Many union contracts greatly benefit workers; however, unions sometimes fail to enforce the Collective Bargaining Agreement on behalf of their members or discriminate against individual members. If you are experiencing union issues or are involved in a union-related dispute, you may also wish to contact the National Labor Relations Board. This Federal agency administers the National Labor Relations Act, the principle law governing relations between private-sector employers and unions.
Non-Compete Agreements

In the spring of 2019, state legislators overhauled the Washington state non-compete law, which up until then gave employers the power to restrict when and where their former employees could work.

The revamped Non-Compete Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, outlaws unfair non-compete agreements that target lower-wage workers by giving them a variety of new protections designed to unlock their economic potential.

Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) Violations

Workplace injuries can end a person’s career or affect the most important aspects of life, including health and financial well-being. Affected workers deserve compensation, but are often unaware that OSHA violations led to their injury. An experienced Employment Law attorney will work with industry experts to determine this and more.

Privacy Rights Violations and Data Breaches

Businesses have an obligation to their customers to protect their personal data and inform them if something happens to it. Most companies will usually offer privacy rights violations and data breach victims free credit or identity monitoring for a year or two. In some cases, this is enough. But if a business loses customer data in a cyberattack and further investigation reveals it was because of poor cybersecurity systems, it could potentially be sued in a class action lawsuit.

Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Violations
Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) is a law that requires employers to provide paid leave to their employees that can be used for medical reasons or domestic assault situations. The law was originally passed in 2012 and has changed to include different types of workers and uses. Seattle PSST is available to any employee who works in Seattle, Washington and does not already receive a paid time off benefit from their employer.
Severance Pay Violations
Losing your job can be financially devastating for yourself and your family. Severance pay can serve as an important safeguard in such an upsetting situation. It is often granted to employees upon termination and is usually based on their length of hire with their employer. However, not all employers make this offer. If you have been denied severance pay or disagree with the amount that your employer is offering you, call Emery | Reddy today to speak to an experienced Intake Specialist for a Free Case Review.
Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination that violates both federal and Washington state laws. Unfortunately, it is one of the most widespread and detrimental types of workplace discrimination and remains common in both small and large companies. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, call Emery | Reddy today to speak to an experienced Intake Specialist and to learn how we may be able to help you with your claim.
Wage and Hour Violations
The laws for hourly wages, overtime, and other related areas include both state and federal regulations, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Washington Minimum Wage Act, the Washington Wage Payment Act, and dozens of other statutes and regulations. Thanks to these laws, Washington state ensures greater wage and hour protections than what is granted to workers under federal law. If it is found that your employer willfully withheld wages, you may be entitled to double the amount withheld.
Washington State Silenced No More Act
In 2022, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law the Silenced No More Act, which limits the use of workplace non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements, commonly known as NDAs. Under the new law, employees and independent contractors throughout Washington state can no longer be forced to stay quiet about certain unlawful workplace mistreatment.
Whistleblowers and Retaliation
Federal laws ensure that workers who experience retaliation from their employers after reporting, also known as whistleblowing, something that is unsafe, illegal, or unethical in their place of work are provided assistance.
Workplace Discrimination
Washington state law protects all people from discriminatory and unfair practices in the workplace. Unfortunately, many employers participate in workplace discrimination, sometimes unknowingly, against employees and job applicants.
Wrongful Termination
Washington state workplaces abide by at-will employment rules, meaning an employer or employee may terminate employment at any time for almost any reason. However, a Washington state employer cannot terminate an employee for taking actions that follow public policy, such as whistleblowing to alert the public or regulatory agencies of misconduct within the company. There are also federal statutes such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These protections bar employers from terminating employees based on race, disability, and many other factors, or from retaliating against that worker if they file a complaint about one of those prohibited practices.

Want More Information?

As a Washington state employee, you are entitled to several protections and benefits under state and federal laws.

Employment Law violations are all too common and can leave you feeling ashamed, confused, angry, anxious, and afraid. Find out the answers to your Employment Law questions today.

A document review is a comprehensive consultation and analysis of your document’s legal language, context, and impact on your worker’s rights as an employee of Washington state.

We fight for you

Meet the Team

The Employment Law Attorneys at Emery | Reddy, PLLC are passionate about helping workers with Employment Law issues and L&I claims. We Help Workers®. It’s our motto and what drives us every day.

We know how companies think, and we understand the tactics they use. Our Employment Law Attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over three decades of experience to help our clients get access to the benefits to which they are legally entitled and hold employers accountable when they break the law.

If you’re struggling with an employment issueinjury, or L&I claim, call us for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn more about how Emery | Reddy may be able help you today.

“Karolina is the best I just love her! She understands me and goes above and beyond without judgment! I would recommend this firm to anyone. Thank you guys for your services and thank you Karolina for just being you ♥️”

— Amy G.

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