learn Your Rights

Worker’s Rights Violations

As a Washington state employee, you are entitled to protections and benefits under state and federal laws. Everyone deserves to be paid fairly, work free of discrimination and harassment, and perform their job in a safe work environment. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, and many people don’t know what to do or even what their rights are. Below, we’ve outlined your Washington state worker’s rights, what to do when they’re violated, and how hiring a skilled worker’s rights violations attorney can help you. Call Emery | Reddy, PLLC today to speak to an experienced Intake Specialist and to learn more about we may be able to help you with your claim.

What Are My Washington State Worker’s Rights?

In recent years, Washington state has taken a progressive approach towards labor laws and protecting employees that go a step further than current national laws. In addition to federal protections, Washington state employees are entitled to the following worker’s rights:

Washington State Minimum Wage in 2024

The 2024 statewide minimum wage for Washington workers aged 16 and older is $16.28 per hour, with some exceptions:

14- and 15-year-olds: Washington state minimum wage for this age range is $13.84 an hour.

Seattle workers:

  • $19.97 an hour (large employers with 501 or more employees)
  • $19.97 an hour (small employers with 500 or fewer employees who do not pay at least $2.72 an hour toward the employee’s medical benefits and/or where the employee does not earn at least $2.72 an hour in tips.)
  • $17.25 an hour (small employers who do pay at least $2.72/hour toward the employee’s medical benefits and/or where the employee does earn at least $2.72 an hour in tips.

SeaTac hospitality and transportation employees: Hotel and transportation employees within the city limits of SeaTac earn $19.71 an hour.

Computer professionals: Exempt computer programmers and other computer professionals earn $56.98 per hour.

Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)

Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) allows Washington state workers to take paid time off when they are sick, for domestic assault-related reasons, or to care for a sick family member. You do not need to provide a doctor’s note. Workers earn one hour of sick and safe time for every 40 hours worked for a total of 6.5 days per year.

Fair Chance Employment (FCE)

Fair Chance Employment (FCE) prohibits discrimination against workers with criminal records. You cannot be asked about your record on an initial job application, and employers must consider your job experience before your record.

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)

Washington state offers its own version of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) called Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML). PFML is a program that pays workers while on leave. Workers can take up to 12 weeks of leave to recuperate from a major surgery, during pregnancy, to receive treatment for a chronic health condition, or to receive inpatient care for substance abuse or mental health. You can also take paid time off to care for a new child, sick family member, or a family member who is about to be deployed overseas or is returning from overseas deployment. The amount of pay you receive weekly is based on a calculator from the Employment Security Department, though not for everyone. You must have been employed with your employer for at least one year and worked a minimum of 820 hours within your qualifying period.

Overtime Pay

All non-exempt hourly workers in Washington state are entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times that of their wage for every hour worked over 40 hours in a work week. The law also includes overtime pay for agricultural workers who clock over 55 hours a week.

Wage Theft Protection

You deserve to be paid on time at the wage you were promised. Wage theft happens when you aren’t paid the rate you were promised, aren’t paid at least minimum wage, or aren’t compensated properly for overtime and breaks. If you are consistently finding your paycheck incorrect, you may be the victim of wage theft and have the right to hold your employer accountable.

Harassment and Discrimination Protection

Washington state and federal laws give you the right to work free of discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and sexual orientation) national origin, age (40 and over), disability, or genetic information.

Washington State Silenced No More Act

In 2022, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law the Silenced No More Act (HB1795), 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 the state can no longer be forced to stay quiet about certain unlawful workplace mistreatment.

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.


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 the following:

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

A note about recording: Washington state 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 a worker’s rights violations 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 a worker’s rights violations attorney.

Visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (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 state workers’ compensation organization, it also oversees Washington state laws and regulations regarding workers’ rights. Reviewing both websites can educate you further on your rights and help you decide if you need to consult with a worker’s rights violations attorney.

Do I Need to Hire a Worker’s Rights Violations 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 worker’s rights violations attorney. 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.

Emery | Reddy has decades of experience in Employment Law and an unmatched record of helping Washington state workers get the justice they deserve in labor violations. Call for a Free Case Review to speak to an experienced Intake Specialist and learn more about your rights.

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.

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


Meet the Team

The Worker’s Rights Violations 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.

“Very friendly interview and intake process. I was informed thoroughly about the processes in obtaining a lawyer and was given ample time to make a decision on representation. I’m thankful for everyone’s help and looking forward to working with this Firm on my worker’s compensation claim.”

— Darren A.

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