Ed Murray Signs Priority Hiring Ordinance

Mayor Ed Murray signed the priority hire ordinance, which he said is "a major move to support workforce development for areas in our region that are being left behind."

The ordinance will improve access to construction employment and training programs for workers who need family-wage jobs by prioritizing the hiring of residents who live in economically distressed areas of Seattle and King County.  On it's face, the ordinance stands to create greater equality in the hiring and payment of wages for lucrative construction and training programs, many of which have been unavailable to a large percentage of economically distressed residents throughout King County.




Boeing Does Not Want to Share

Boeing recently announced a record 2014 net profit of $5.4 billion.  Despite the record, Boeing will not be “paying it forward” by providing its employees with large bonuses for their efforts.  In fact, Boeing will reduce bonus payouts this year, citing many problems with on time delivery related to the Boeing Dreamliner.  Employees most likely to be effected by the bonus reductions include, but are not limited to, engineers and other salaried non-management staff.



Gender Equality For NFL Cheerleaders

A California Assemblywoman (Lorena Gonzales) has introduced a bill that would require professional sports teams to classify their cheerleading squads as employees under California law.  The bill would not only protect cheerleaders from workplace abuses, such as failure to pay wages and discrimination, but it would similarly provide cheerleaders with access to numerous employee benefits that they otherwise are not entitled to when classified as “volunteers” or “independent contractors.”

The proposed bill comes on the heels of several lawsuits filed against NFL teams, including the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, where cheerleaders have alleged improper pay practices and workplace abuses. 

When asked to comment on her bill, Assemblywoman Gonzales, who was once a cheerleader herself, stated, “NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades. They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage.  If the guy selling you the beer deserves a minimum wage, so does the woman entertaining you on the field.  All work is dignified and cheerleaders deserve the respect of these basic workplace protections.”



ExxonMobile Adopts LGBT Workplace Protections

After President Barack Obama's executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual ordination or gender identity, ExxonMobile adopted LGBT workplace protections.  For many years, ExxonMobile's shareholders have voted to reject adopting LGBT workplace protections; however, due to the President's executive order, ExxonMobile is finally extending workplace protections. 

While this may seem like a win, unfortunately ExxonMobile made a statement that the only reason it did it was to not lose federal contracts, insinuating their lack of enthusiasm for the spirit of the executive order.  Even if your company has discrimination policies in place does not mean they are following them.  If you feel you have been subject to discrimination in the workplace, please contact us today.



Daimler Trucks Forced to Pay Record $2.4 Million Settlement to Employees

Daimler Trucks North America has reached a settlement with the Bureau of Labor and Industries on behalf of several employees who allege they were discriminated against for years at the company.  Specifically, employees alleged years of racial intimidation and abuse including, but not limited to, racial slurs, threats of violence, and assaults.  The settlement stands to be the largest in Bureau of Labor and Industries history.  When asked to comment on the allegations, and proposed settlement, Daimler has remained mum.


Microsoft Layoffs Continue

In June 2014, Microsoft announced a restructuring plan that would eliminate approximately 18,000 positions. Microsoft acted swiftly after announcing the new plan, eliminating 13,000 positions the day it announced the plan. In September 2014, Microsoft eliminated 2,100 positions. In October 2014, it eliminated 3,000.

On Monday, the company confirmed, much to its employees chagrin, that more layoffs are on the horizon. Over the next couple of months, Microsoft will eliminate 500 more positions. Microsoft hopes to have all layoffs completed by June 2015.

If you have recently been laid off, it is important to know your rights. You may be entitled to compensation, COBRA healthcare coverage, or unemployment benefits.  At Sipherd Burke Law, we are happy to help you navigate these complex areas of employment separation.



Pregnancy Disability Leave - Know Your Rights

In Washington, most employees (those working for employers that employ 8 or more employees) can take an unpaid pregnancy disability leave of absence for the actual period of sickness or temporary disability related to pregnancy or childbirth.  Pregnancy disability leave must be granted in addition to the employee’s entitlement to family medical leave.

How to obtain pregnancy disability leave:

(1) Notify your employer and obtain certification from your doctor regarding the need for pregnancy disability leave and the estimation of duration of leave.

(2) If your need for pregnancy disability leave extends beyond the date originally provided for in your original certification, obtain a secondary certification from your doctor explaining the need for extended leave and the new expected duration of that leave.

(3) Upon return from pregnancy disability leave, your employer must reinstate you to your prior position or a position that is similar in scope to your prior position.

(4) Your employer cannot retaliate against you or otherwise materially change the conditions of your employment because you have taken family medical leave or pregnancy disability leave.

(5) If you fail to return to work following your pregnancy disability leave, and are not otherwise covered by another form of paid or unpaid leave, your employer can treat you as having voluntarily quit your job.

For more information about your right to pregnancy disability leave visit:



France Pushes For Accountability of Social Media Sites for Hate Speech

The French government announced that they will hold any web companies that host extremis messages accountable.  The French president wants to introduce a law that would make web companies, such as Google and Facebook, "accomplices" in crimes of hate speech. 

This backlash against hate speech is similar to what we have seen in the U.S. with the recent anti-bullying campaigns on social media.  Hate speech and bullying can happen in the workplace.  If you feel you have been subjected to either, please contact us today.

The Verge

Boeing Terminates Employee Suspected of Using and Selling Drugs at Work

After conducting a thorough investigation, Boeing has terminated four employees suspected of selling and using drugs at work.  Boeing is now taking the opportunity to use this unfortunate situation as a coaching opportunity.  Starting next week, management will interrupt work in the Everett facility to conduct briefings that will reiterate the company’s drug-free workplace policy and make employees aware of the resources available to help with substance-abuse issues.

While most employers ban drug use in the workplace, there are state and federal laws protecting employees who need prescription medication(s) and accommodation(s) in the workplace. There are also state and federal protections for employees needing accommodation to recover from substance-abuse conditions.  If you, or someone you know, are being treated unfairly due to an accommodation request tied to either prescription drug use or substance-abuse recovery, we can help.


Saks Fifth Avenue Discriminating Against Transgender Employees

In a lawsuit in Texas, Saks Fifth Avenue argued that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is not prohibited by federal law.  However, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have taken the position that the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act protects transgender employees from harassment and discrimination.

If you feel you have been harassed or discriminated at work, please contact us today.


NY Daily News

Employee Alleges Employer Discriminated Aganst Her Based On Gender, Age, and Race

A 53-year-old Maple Valley woman has filed a lawsuit accusing Microsoft of gender, race and age discrimination.  The plaintiff, Nancy Williams, contends that the workplace environment at Microsoft was not supportive of women employees.  She similarly alleges she was subjected to discrimination and differential treatment, as well as a hostile work environment, based on her race (Hispanic) and age.

Discrimination and harassment can take many forms.  If you believe that you are being discriminated against for any reason, let alone multiple reasons, make your employer aware of the treatment. Ask your employer to provide a written report every time you report an incident of discrimination or harassment. Also, ask your employer to investigate your allegations and to discipline or correct the action against the offenders.  Employers are required by law to give prompt consideration to all reports of discrimination and harassment.


Would You Like Fries With That Racism?

McDonalds may be known for its golden arches and cheeseburgers, but employees of the fast-food giant allege it is better known to them for its creation and maintenance of a hostile and racially discriminatory work environment.

Employees of a Virginia franchise allege that they were called "ghetto" and "ratchet." They were similarly told by high ranking supervisors that their store had become "too dark" and that they "need[ed] to get the ghetto out of the store."  Not surprisingly, several minority employees were abruptly terminated following these comments.

Nine employees of the Virginia franchise have filed suit, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, seeking damages against both the franchisee and corporate McDonalds.  Local civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, are supporting the lawsuit and working with the formerly terminated employees.


Maternity Leave Still Difficult for Women

Many women in the U.S. still do not receive paid time off for maternity leave.  Unless you work for a company that voluntarily offers it or live in one of the three states that requires it, paid maternity leave does not exist.  The Family and Medical Leave Act grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year; however, this law only applies to full-time employees at companies larger than 50 employees.  This means that only about half of Americans are covered by the FMLA.

Paid leave is another issue.  Only 12% of Americans have access to paid leave according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as outlined in Bloomberg

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) in 2013 introduced the Family Act, which would make employers offer new parents three month paid leave at 66% salary; however, the bill has been stalled.  The current generation graduating from college does not experience the pay gap older generations have experienced.  The discrepancy grows as they get older and do not advance at the same pace as their male counterparts.  And, this seems to happen as women start to have children.

According to the U.N., the U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that don't have some form of legally mandated partially paid time off. If you or anyone you know feels you have been discriminated against due to pregnancy or not being allowed to take your full maternity leave, please contact us today. 


Labor Issues in Seattle

Workers employed by a Microsoft contractor recently organized a union. They are now bargaining over the contract. After one of the union members started asking questions about paid time off and sick leave, she was laid off. 

Microsoft employs contracted employees in the tens of thousands.  This is the first effort to unionize workers on Microsoft's campus in years.  If you have any questions about unions, wrongful termination or other employment law questions, please contact us today.

Seattle Times



Tech Industries' Lack of Diversity Shows in Stats

Recently, many technology firms have been forthcoming with their diversity statistics.  However, this has proven what so many have known or guessed - minorities are severely underrepresented.  At Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and others, more than 50% of employees are white and only 25%-30% are female.  And, the problem usually only gets worse as you look at senior management.

As Josh Constine at TechCrunch said, "...they all get an F for being heavily skewed male, white and Asian."


BizJournal; Apple; Facebook

Minimum Wage to Increase in 2015

Across the nation, changes in the minimum wage are going into effect this year.  Seattle's City Council unanimously approved a $15 per hour minimum wage.  This amount will go into effect on April 1, 2015 and will be phased in over 3 to 7 years.

We stand ready to help employees who have unfortunately experienced wage and hour issues.  Please contact us today to discuss your rights and how we can help.