Washington State Employment Lawyers
The operation of any business or enterprise is exceptionally complicated, with many laws and regulations that must be followed to avoid penalties or other legal action. This protects the many intricate aspects of a business, from the relationships between employers and employees to the handling of customer information and more. In the state of Washington, there are various laws that businesses must follow to ensure that they are operating legally. Employment law is one area where companies must be particularly careful, as there are many different rules and regulations that govern the employer-employee relationship.
At Ferraro Vega, we have a team of experienced Washington state employment lawyers who navigate the complex web of laws and regulations that govern this area. We have a deep understanding of the many different aspects of employment law. We have extensive experience representing employees from all types of industries, and with all types of disputes with their employers. Our goal is always to make sure our clients receive the most favorable outcomes. We accomplish this by holding employers accountable for how they treat their employees. Whether you are in Spokane, Seattle, Tacoma, or anywhere else in Washington, we are standing by to help you with all your employment law needs.
Table of Contents
What Types of Cases Do Our Washington State Employment Lawyers Handle?
With the many different laws that govern the employer-employee relationship, there are a variety of different types of cases that our Washington state employment lawyers can handle. Some of the most common types of cases that we handle include:
- Accommodations and leaves: Reasonable accommodations must be made for employees when it comes to religion, disability, pregnancy, and other protected characteristics. Employees are also entitled to take leave for a variety of reasons, including medical leave, family leave, and military leave. If an employer tries to restrict an employee’s ability to take leave or fails to provide reasonable accommodations, they may be violating the law and will be subject to investigation and penalties.
- Wage and hour disputes: Every employee is entitled to at least the minimum wage, as well as overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. Employees must also be paid for all their work hours, including any time spent on training or orientation. All of these are upfront agreements laid out when an employee is hired. If an employer tries to change these terms or fails to pay employees what they are owed, it can result in a wage and hour dispute.
- Workplace discrimination and harassment: It is illegal to discriminate against employees based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. It is also illegal to harass employees based on any of these protected characteristics. Everyone has the legal right to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment. If an employer fails to provide this, or actively engages in discriminatory or harassing behavior, they can be held liable.
- Retaliation: Employers cannot retaliate against employees who have filed a complaint or participated in an investigation that challenges a specific employment practice. This could include firing, demoting, or otherwise punishing an employee for exposing an alleged malpractice in the organization. Some common retaliation claims an employee might file include those relating to discrimination, harassment, or wage and hour disputes. These people are also known as whistleblowers, and they are legally protected under state and federal law.
- Non-Competes: In some cases, employers may require employees to sign a non-compete agreement, which prohibits the employee from working for a competitor for a certain period of time after leaving the company. These agreements must be reasonable in scope and duration to be enforceable. They can be challenged in court if they are found to be too restrictive or if the employer has not given the employee adequate consideration in return for signing the agreement.
- Severance packages: If an employee is terminated, they may be entitled to receive a severance package. The terms of these packages are typically negotiable in terms of how much the employee will receive and what, if any, restrictions will be placed on the employee. Any deviation from the terms of the package could be grounds for a legal challenge.
- Wrongful termination: This is the catch-all category for any termination that is done in violation of the law. This could include firing an employee for a protected characteristic, such as their race or religion, or for taking leave that they are legally entitled to take. Any unjustified firing could be considered wrongful termination.
- Sexual harassment: This is discrimination that is based on sex. It can involve solicitations for sexual favors, unwanted advances, and other sexually explicit physical or verbal behavior. If these inappropriate behaviors are severe or pervasive throughout part or all of the organization, it will create a hostile work environment.
- Bonuses and commissions: Employees who are promised bonuses or commissions must receive them if they have met the conditions that were set forth in the agreement. The employer cannot arbitrarily take away these payments.
- Employment contracts: Employers and employees can benefit from well-drafted employment contracts. These contracts can spell out the duties and responsibilities of each party and the compensation the employee will receive.
- Vacation, PTO, and Benefits: Employees are typically entitled to take a vacation and paid time off (PTO). The amount of vacation time and PTO an employee is entitled to will depend on the employer’s policies. If an employer is found to have violated their own policies by denying an employee vacation time or PTO, the employee may have a claim for damages.
- Independent contractor: This is a type of worker who is not an employee of the company. They typically have their own business and contract with the company to provide services. These workers are not entitled to the same protections as employees, such as minimum wage and overtime pay. However, they may be entitled to other protections, such as those under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Wage theft: This occurs when an employer withholds wages that are legally owed to an employee. This could include not paying overtime, not paying for all hours worked, or arbitrarily deducting money from an employee’s paycheck.
What Forms of Evidence Will Be Useful in an Employment Discrimination Claim?
Many different types of evidence can be used in an employment discrimination claim. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Witness statements: Statements from witnesses can be very helpful in proving discrimination. These could be co-workers, friends, or family members who saw or heard the discriminatory behavior. Their account of what happened can help to corroborate the victim’s story. Some specific claims that they could make would be things like “I heard the boss say that he didn’t want to promote her because she was a woman” or “I heard him make a racist comment.”
- Email and other written communications: These can be very helpful in proving discrimination, especially if they are from the employer or a supervisor. These communications could be in the form of emails, text messages, or even handwritten notes. They could contain things like “I think we should fire her so we don’t have to pay maternity leave” or “I don’t feel comfortable hiring someone who is a member of the LGBTQ community.”
- Performance reviews: These can show discrimination if there is a sudden change in the victim’s performance reviews after they complain about discrimination. For example, if an employee has consistently received positive performance reviews and suddenly starts receiving negative reviews after complaining about discrimination, this could be used as evidence to suggest that the negative reviews were used in retaliation for the complaint.
- Timesheets and other records: These can help prove discrimination if there is a sudden change in the victim’s hours or compensation after they complain about discrimination. For example, suppose an employee has consistently received positive performance reviews during their career. Suddenly, they start receiving negative reviews after complaining about discrimination. These circumstances could be used as evidence to suggest that the negative reviews were written in retaliation for the complaint.
- Security footage: This can be helpful in proving discrimination if there is footage of the discriminatory behavior. For example, if an employee is captured on security footage being harassed by a co-worker, such as being called racial slurs, this will be difficult for the employer to deny and could be used as evidence in a discrimination claim.
What Questions Should I Ask Employment Attorneys?
When you are seeking an attorney to help resolve your employment law issue, it is important to ask them a few questions to get a better understanding of their experience and qualifications. These questions could include:
- How long have you been practicing employment law?
- How many cases like mine have you handled?
- What is your success rate in employment law cases?
- Do you have experience with cases like mine in my state?
- What are your fees for handling an employment law case?
- How long do you think my case will take to resolve?
- What are the likely outcomes of my case?
- Can you provide any references from past clients?
These can all help narrow your search for an employment law attorney and ensure that you are hiring someone who is qualified to help with your specific issue.
Employment Law FAQs
Q: What Can I Sue My Employer for in Washington State?
A: When a Washington employer engages in discriminatory practices or other illegal employment actions, an employee may have a claim against the employer. Some of the most common claims against employers are for discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. In some circumstances, an employee may file a claim against multiple defendants, such as an employer and a supervisor, if both are liable for the employee’s damages.
Q: What Does an Employment Lawyer Do?
A: An employment lawyer helps employees resolve disputes with their employers. This can include filing and litigating claims for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. They are experts in understanding what rules and regulations guide employers’ behavior and can help ensure that their clients are fairly compensated for any damages that they have suffered.
Q: What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Washington State?
A: In general, wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired in violation of their employment contract or for an unlawful reason, such as discrimination or retaliation. Any deviation from the terms of an employment contract that has resulted in the firing of an employee may also be considered wrongful termination. These unjustified firings can cause serious financial hardship for the employee, and they may be entitled to compensation for their damages as they seek to restore their career.
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Employment Attorney?
A: The cost of hiring an employment lawyer will vary depending on the lawyer’s experience, the complexity of the case, and the amount of work that needs to be done. In some cases, lawyers may work on a contingency basis, which means that they will only receive a percentage of the damages awarded to the employee if they win the case. In other cases, lawyers may charge an hourly rate. Employees should ask about the lawyer’s fees before hiring them to ensure that they are comfortable with the arrangement.
Q: Can You Be Fired for No Reason in Washington State?
A: Most employees in Washington are considered “at-will” employees, which means they can be terminated at any time for any reason (or no reason) by their employer. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, an employee cannot be fired for a discriminatory reason, such as their race, religion, or gender. Additionally, an employer cannot fire an employee in retaliation for the employee reporting illegal activity or filing a claim against the company. These delicate situations require the expertise of an experienced employment lawyer to navigate and determine what, if any, legal action can be taken.
Contact Ferraro Vega Today
If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, or any other major employment law violation in the state of Washington, it is time to contact the legal experts at Ferraro Vega. When you are ready to make the call, we are here to answer any questions that you may have and get started on building your case. Contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon.