At-Will Employment

Most employees are at-will employees. This means an employer may terminate an employee at any time even without providing advanced noticed. Though this may seem unfair, it is not illegal. However, if an employer terminates an employee because they belong to a protected class (i.e., age, race, gender, national origin, religion and disability), that action is unlawful and the terminated employee has the right to take legal action.

Wage and Hour

Both federal and state law protect employees from being denied fair pay for hours worked. The Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA) mandates payment practices that employers must follow. The statute explains when straight pay, overtime, and half-time payment must occur. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal equivalent to the MWA, mirrors the state law in many respects.

Safety and Health Standards

All employees are entitled to a safe and healthy work environment. In general, the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 covers all employees and employers. It provides the following employee rights: to file a complaint with OSHA, to participate in OSHA workplace inspections and to have their identity kept confidential.

Health Benefits, Retirement Standards, and Workers' Compensation

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) covers most employee benefit plans. These plans are voluntarily established by an employer, an employee organization or jointly.

In Washington State, workers' compensation benefits are available to employees who have become unemployed. These benefits, in part, replace your regularly earnings to assist you as you look for another job. In order to qualify for these benefits, you must have worked at least 680 hours in the state of Washington and you must look for employment each week that you are claiming unemployment benefits.

Work Authorization for non-US Citizens

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides provisions that apply to all employers addressing employment eligibility, verification and nondiscrimination. The INA protects US citizens and aliens authorized to accept employment in the U.S. from discrimination in hiring or termination.