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Washington Laws

Discover important state and local employment laws for Washington.
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Published: May 16, 2024

Washington Expands Equal Pay Law To Cover All Protected Classes

Washington Expands Equal Pay Law To Cover All Protected Classes
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Update Effective: July 1, 2025

In late March, Washington passed a law broadening the scope of Washington’s existing Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA), which currently prohibits sex- and gender-based pay discrimination. The new EPOA amendments expand the EPOA beyond gender, and the law now prohibits pay discrimination based on membership in any protected class. Beginning in July of next year, protected classes under the EPOA will include age, sex, gender, marital status, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, presence of a disability, and more.

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Published: Apr 19, 2024

Washington State Enacts Amendment to Noncompete Agreement Law

Washington State Enacts Amendment to Noncompete Agreement Law
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Update Effective: June 6, 2024

Governor Inslee has signed a bill into law that will amend the existing noncompete agreement law in Washington, with the changes taking effect on June 6, 2024. Amongst other modifications, the bill expands the definition of a “non competition covenant” to include non solicitation agreements other than those applying to current customers, which could void employers’ current noncompete agreements with employees. Additionally, the amendment clarifies notice requirements including mandating that employers disclose non compete terms at the time of initial acceptance of the offer of employment. It is recommended that employers consult legal counsel to review and revise their agreements containing non compete and non solicitation clauses to align with the amended legislation.

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Published: Aug 15, 2023

Washington Limits Employers From Searching Employees’ Private Vehicles

Washington Limits Employers From Searching Employees’ Private Vehicles
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Update Effective: July 23, 2023

Starting July 23, 2023, Washington employers will be prevented from conducting searches of employees’ privately-owned vehicles on company premises or access roads, with specific exceptions. Exceptions to this rule include searches of company-owned or -leased vehicles, lawful searches by law enforcement and voluntary searches based on probable cause of unlawful possession of employer property or controlled substances. Employees have the right to designate a witness during the search. Employers should update their policies and educate their staff regarding these new limitations.

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Published: Jul 13, 2023

Discriminatory Pre-Employment Testing for Legal Cannabis Use Prohibited

Discriminatory Pre-Employment Testing for Legal Cannabis Use Prohibited
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Update Effective: January 1, 2024

A new law, signed on May 9, 2023 by Governor Inslee, provides protection to job applicants engaged in legal cannabis use outside of the workplace or pre-employment screening results identifying positive use of cannabis. 

Employers are not permitted to consider hiring decisions based on legal cannabis use with some exceptions, such as in safety-sensitive positions or positions that require federal background check clearance. Employers should continue to monitor updates and are encouraged to review their current policies and testing procedures in accordance with this law.

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Published: Mar 16, 2023

(Seattle) Seattle to Become First City in Nation to Ban Caste Discrimination

(Seattle) Seattle to Become First City in Nation to Ban Caste Discrimination
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Update Effective: This legislation will become effective 30 days after it receives the Seattle Mayor’s signature.

Seattle is poised to become the first U.S. city to prohibit discrimination on the basis of “caste,” including in the context of employment. The proposals now go before the mayor for signature.

The term “caste” is defined broadly for purposes of the amendments as “a system of rigid social stratification characterized by hereditary status, endogamy, and social barriers sanctioned by custom, law, or religion.”

Employers can review the linked article for additional information, and review their anti-discrimination policy to make any required adjustments to include the new requirements.

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Published: Nov 10, 2022

Washington Issues Additional Guidance On Upcoming Pay Transparency Law

Washington Issues Additional Guidance On Upcoming Pay Transparency Law
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Update Effective: January 1, 2023

In April 2022, we discussed a revised amendment to Washington's Equal Pay and Opportunities Act regarding the state’s upcoming pay transparency law. Recently, further guidance has been issued which clarified that an employer is covered by this law if they have 15 employees in any state, and at least one of those employees is located in Washington. The guidance also provides details on information to be included in job postings and examples of how salary information should be presented. Employers are encouraged to review their job descriptions for internal and external postings to ensure the new requirements are met under this law.

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Published: Jul 14, 2022

Washington State Wage and Hour Developments

Washington State Wage and Hour Developments
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Update Effective: Various

The State of Washington passed a series of updates to its wage and hour laws, including updates to the minimum wage and the non-compete salary threshold. Washington also added a requirement for employers to reimburse employees for any fees incurred if a paycheck is dishonored by non-acceptance or non-payment.

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Published: Jun 16, 2022

Expansion of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Program

Expansion of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Program
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Update Effective: June 9, 2022

Effective June 9, 2022, Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) was expanded to include a handful of new provisions. One of the most notable updates is the provision of bereavement leave to parents who suffer a loss of a qualifying family member, inclusive of loss of a pregnancy. Although PFML bereavement leave is available in limited circumstances, eligible employees could be entitled to 7 days of bereavement time per this expansion of the benefit. Also included in the PFML expansion are the automatic designation of 6 weeks of medical leave to birth parents without a doctor's note and the update that waiting periods will no longer reduce total weeks of PFML benefits.

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Published: Apr 14, 2022

Washington Wage Transparency Law

Washington Wage Transparency Law
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Update Effective: January 1, 2023

In late March, Washington Governor Inslee signed into law a revised amendment to the state’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act regarding wage transparency in Washington. The updated version of this law will require employers with 15 or more employees to include in all job postings both a salary range and a general description of benefits and compensation for the position, among other requirements.

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Published: Apr 14, 2022

Washington Introduces the "Silenced No More" Act

Washington Introduces the "Silenced No More" Act
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Update Effective: June 9, 2022

Washington’s “Silenced No More Act”, signed into law on March 24, 2022, will prohibit an employer from including non-disclosure clauses in settlement agreements that involve discrimination and workplace harassment.

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Published: Nov 11, 2021

Washington Long Term Cares Program Funding to Begin Early 2022

Washington Long Term Cares Program Funding to Begin Early 2022
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Update Effective: January 1, 2022

In June’s edition of The Scoop, we discussed Washington’s state-operated long term care insurance program to be funded by employees through payroll deductions. Justworks will begin to collect and remit these payments for our customers starting January 1, 2022. For employees who wish to file a permanent exemption, they must have obtained a qualifying long-term care insurance plan prior to November 1, 2021 and may file for permanent exemption through December 31, 2022.

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Published: Jul 15, 2021

Expanded Definition of Family Member under WA PFML

Expanded Definition of Family Member under WA PFML
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Update Effective: July 25, 2021

Washington has amended its Paid Family and Medical Leave law to define “family member” as any individual who regularly resides in the employee's home or where the relationship creates an expectation that the employee cares for the person, but not an individual who simply resides in the same home with no expectation that the employee cares for them.

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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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