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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 the legal team at Emery | Reddy, PLLC today.

Most Common Employment Law Violations

Examples of employment law violations include:

Wage and overtime violations: Everyone deserves to be paid a fair wage and on time. Unfortunately, some employers disregard Washington State employment laws and don’t pay their employees what they are owed, resulting in wage and hour violations.

Non-competes: If you signed a non-compete after January 1, 2020, you’re entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced employment law team at Emery | Reddy, PLLC today to find out more.

Violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Many employers don’t realize that their workers do not have to specifically ask for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. 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.

Violations of the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML): Many employees are entitled to protected paid time off under WPFML, whether it’s for their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to care for a newborn or adopted child. Employers cannot threaten or take disciplinary action against any employee who seeks information or requests paid time off through WPFML.

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: Being let go from a job impacts every part of your life—from the financial to the professional and emotional. However, employees discharged for unlawful reasons can take action in their defense.

Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): 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 in this area, and many others refuse to follow it.

Privacy and data breaches: 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.

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 discrimination and remains common in both small and large companies.

Whistleblower 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.

Labor union disputes: Unions sometimes fail to enforce the Collective Bargaining Agreement on behalf of their members or discriminate against individual members leading to labor union disputes. This contract usually regulates wages, work schedules, job duties, benefits, and other employment issues such as termination.

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:

  • Receive equal pay for equal work
  • Receive reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs, disability, or pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  • Not be sexually harassed or discriminated against for your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.
  • Report 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
  • Be 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
  • Be paid tips and service charges
  • Be able to discuss potential violations of these rights with your employer

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.

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
  • 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, 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 (HR) as a first step. Besides hiring new employees and managing benefits, HR 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 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 attorney.

emery reddy attorney Karolina s. Arthur at her desk in the emery reddy offices

Do I Need To Hire An Employment Law Attorney?

If you have tried to work things out with your employer and nothing has been done, then it’s time to consult with an experienced Seattle employment law attorney. They can help you determine if you have a case, and what your options are. If needed, they can help you bring the case to court or help you negotiate a deal with your employer without ever stepping into a courtroom.

Employment law is complicated and can be overwhelming for anyone not familiar with it. Trying to hold a company accountable for bad business practices requires a skilled attorney to navigate the different laws and tactics an employer may use.

Want More Information?

Workers’ Rights

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

Document Review

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

Workplace Discrimination

Washington state law protects all people from discriminatory and unfair practices in the workplace.

Meet The Team

The employment law and L&I attorneys at Emery | Reddy are passionate about helping workers with L&I claims and employment law issues. We Help Workers®: it’s our motto and it’s what drives us every day.

We know how L&I and big companies think, and we understand the tactics they use. Our labor and industries attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over two decades of experience to help our clients get access to the L&I benefits to which they are legally entitled and hold employers accountable when they break the law.

If you’re struggling with an L&I claim, injury, or legal issue at work, please call us and see how Emery | Reddy can help you today.

emery reddy attorney tim emery headshot

Timothy W. Emery

emery reddy attorney patrick reddy headshot

Patrick B. Reddy

Emery reddy attorney karolina s. athur headshot

Karolina S. Arthur

Emery reddy attorney paul cipriani junior headshot

Paul Cipriani, Jr.