learn Your Rights

Your Worker’s Rights in Washington State

What Are My Washington State Worker’s Rights?​

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 how our Employment Law Attorneys may be able to help you with your claim.

Your Worker’s Rights In Washington State

The Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. These laws protect you against:

  • Harassment or discrimination against you because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age (40 or above), disability, or genetic information.
  • Denial of reasonable workplace accommodation because of your religion, disability, pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions.
  • Retaliation after reporting discrimination or assisting with a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Other major federal laws that offer worker protections include (but aren’t limited to):

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 everyone qualifies. 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 or above), 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.

Seattle and SeaTac Worker’s Rights

Workers in Seattle and SeaTac also have added protections.

Secure Scheduling

For Seattle retail and food service workers at establishments with more than 500 employees worldwide, city laws note that you should receive your schedule at least 14 days in advance. And if you work a “clopening” shift (closing and opening on the same shift in less than 10 hours), you are entitled to pay at a rate of time-and-a-half. Lastly, managers should offer you the chance to work extra hours before hiring part-time staff.

Health and Safety Standards for Hotel Workers

Protections are also in place for Seattle hotel staff. Hotels with 60+ rooms must give employees access to panic buttons and other protections against sexual harassment and assault; if the hotel has more than 100 rooms, employers must provide health benefits or similar compensation and give extra pay to cleaning staff that cleans more than 5,000 square feet in an 8-hour shift.

Domestic Worker Protections

Nannies, house cleaners, home care workers, gardeners, cooks, au pairs, or household managers in Seattle are often independent contractors and therefore don’t qualify for some federal and state protections, but they have rights too. These rights include protection from sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination, 30-minute uninterrupted meal and 10-minute uninterrupted rest breaks (or more pay if you don’t get a break), paid Seattle minimum wage, and one day off every six consecutive days for live-in workers. Additionally, workers are allowed to keep their original documents and personal effects.

TNC Driver Pay Standard

Transportation Network Company (TNC) drivers that work for companies like Uber or Lyft have the right to earn a minimum rate for each trip in Seattle of $0.64 per passenger platform minute for all passenger platform time for that trip, plus $1.50 per passenger platform mile for all passenger platform miles driven on that trip (or a minimum of $5.62 per dispatched trip), with tips paid on top of the minimum. Pay rates increase each year to account for the updated cost of living. Additionally, if you are “deactivated” by the TNC, you have the right to appeal that decision and seek representation under the TNC Deactivation Ordinance. Regardless of whether or not you’re an independent contractor working for a TNC, you’re guaranteed these rights.

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:

  • 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 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 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.

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?

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 Washington state worker’s rights.

While Washington is at an at-will employment state, it is still possible to be unlawfully fired. If you believe you are a victim of wrongful termination, you need an aggressive and experienced legal team to fight for the justice you deserve.


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 law 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.

“I can't recommend them highly enough. Thoughtful, informative, and extremely diligent. Their attorneys and their staff are extremely competent and they pay attention to every detail. You will not be disappointed!”

— Khasha M.

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