The purpose of labor laws is to protect individual employees from large employers with a lot of power. In Washington, these laws help employees make sure they are paid for the work they do and are paid a certain amount. The laws also make sure employees are treated fairly at their workplace and that the workplace is free from obvious dangers.

What Is Part-Time vs. Full-Time in Washington?

Washington does not have a rule about how many hours you have to work to have either full-time or part-time status at your job. If you are not sure as to what kind of employee you are, then you should check with your company.

What Is the Minimum Wage in Washington?

Minimum wage in Washington is $11 per hour. However, employees who are 14-15 yeas old have a minimum wage of $9.35 per hour. The minimum wage will increase every year as follows:

  • 2018 – $11.50 per hour
  • 2019 – $12 per hour
  • 2020 – $13.50 per hour

Overtime

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees in Washington must be paid 1 and ½ times their regular hourly rate when they work over 40 hours per week. For most employees, unrestricted mandatory overtime is acceptable, meaning that you must comply if an employer asks you to work over 40 hours per week or risk being fired. The exception is that if you are a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse, then you cannot be forced to work overtime.

Health Benefits

Washington does not have state specific laws about health insurance requirements. The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) applies, instead. The ACA requires some employers to provide health insurance. The companies that have to follow the ACA must offer plans that cover at least 60% of regular health costs. Smaller companies are not required to offer insurance because the law only applies to companies with at least 50 full-time employees.

With the induction of the new United States president, the federal government may replace or change aspects of the ACA. No one is sure yet what, if any, changes are going to take place. So, you should carefully listen to any new updates on health insurance laws and keep in touch with your HR department and insurance company.

Discrimination

In Washington, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee for certain reasons. An employer cannot discriminate based on sex, race, color, citizenship status, genetic information, religion, age, disability, marital status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or the use of a service animal. If you think you have been discriminated against, you need to act quickly so as to not miss any deadlines for filing a complaint. Your employer also cannot punish you for making a complaint of discrimination in the workplace.

To file a complaint, you can reach out to the Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC), or you can file federally with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the situation is not resolved by one of these agencies, then you have the right to sue your employer.

If you sue in a federal court there are restrictions on the amount you can get. If you sue in state court, then there is no limit on compensatory damages. Only in certain cases can you get punitive damages that punish the employer.

Time Off

Washington mostly follows the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In accordance with this law, employees are able to take off 12 weeks of unpaid leave for illness, taking care of a sick family member or taking care of a newborn or adopted child. However, the FMLA only applies to companies that engage in commerce in more than one state and have at least 50 employees.

Washington does provide more protection than FMLA with regard the right to return to your job. The FMLA only states that your employer has to keep your job for you. Washington law says your job has to still be there with the same pay. Furthermore, if you are no longer able to do that job, then they have to transfer you to a similar job with the same pay.

Where Can I Find a Local Employment Lawyer to Help Me?

If you are concerned that you are not getting the protections and rights that you should be receiving from Washington’s labor laws, you should contact a Washington employment lawyer today. A lawyer can advise you how best to pursue the enforcement of your rights.