The Washington State Legislature is currently considering H.B. 1646, which would reaffirm many of the rights granted under State and Federal law regarding employees’ ability to discuss their wages amongst themselves and with their supervisors. Unlike other State and Federal laws, H.B. 1646 contains no exemption for certain employers regularly exempted from employment laws, such as public employers, religious employers, agricultural workers, certain overtime-exempt employees, or certain domestic workers. H.B. 1646 would also prohibit the assignment of less favorable employment based on gender, potentially requiring employers to articulate a reason for each job assignment and task given to a particular employee in the event a discrimination claim is raised. H.B. 1646 would also permit an employee to bring a private lawsuit and provides for payment of a successful plaintiff-employee’s attorney fees and damages. Please contact us with any questions or concerns regarding this bill and how it may impact your business.
On January 27, 2015, the Tacoma City Council approved an ordinance that will require employers that operate within the Tacoma City limits to offer at least three days of paid sick leave to both union and non-union employees. By the second year of employment, employees will be permitted to use up to five days of paid sick leave. The leave may also be used in a manner similar to that already provided under the State’s Domestic Violence Leave law. The ordinance will not take effect until February 1, 2016, after a period of rulemaking, to determine, among others things, whether this ordinance will apply to all employers of any size in Tacoma. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how this ordinance may impact your business and whether you should amend you handbook to reflect the changed requirements.
A settlement has been reached following the wrongful death of Ronald Hillstrom, a man who died on his way to the hospital after an altercation with Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputies on May 11, 2014.
Police were responding to a disturbance call and found Mr. Hillstrom, who has a history of mental illness, holding a screwdriver and running in circles in the parking lot of his apartment complex. Four officers arrived, and when Mr. Hillstrom failed to respond to their commands he was tased. A struggle ensued, and over the next several minutes officers attempted to subdue and handcuff him. At one point Mr. Hillstrom lost consciousness, but when he awoke he resumed struggling and yelling incoherently. Paramedics arrived to transport Mr. Hillstrom to a local hospital for treatment of a laceration to his head, but he suffered a cardiac arrest while being transported and could not be revived.
A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the Hillstrom family alleged that Mr. Hillstrom’s death was caused by inadequate training and excessive force by the Pierce County officers. A subsequent autopsy revealed multiple blunt force injuries, a broken nose, and thirteen rib fractures due to trauma.
The Hillstrom family and Pierce County came together in late-January to discuss resolution of the lawsuit. As part of the settlement negotiations, Pierce County confirmed that it has partnered with MultiCare Mental Health to provide additional training for its Sheriff’s deputies in the wake of Mr. Hillstrom’s death. The Hillstrom family was represented by attorneys Nathan Roberts and Julie Kays of Connelly Law Offices and Jason Whalen of Ledger Square Law. The County was represented by attorneys Michelle Luna-Green and Sean Davis of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.
Ledger Square Law was honored to be one of the sponsors for the Tacoma/Pierce County YWCA’s biggest fundraiser held Saturday night. Glam That Gives is an annual auction fundraiser with a common goal to prevent domestic violence. This year’s theme was post World War II era French Quarter, New Orleans. Our clients, Ted and Debbie Gord, were our guests. Stu Morgan and his wife, Danica, attended, as well as Clemencia Castro-Woolery and her husband Rick Woolery. Their daughter, Sophia Woolery, attended and is also an attorney in Tacoma.