Employee Had Valid Claims For Failure To Accommodate PTSD And Sexual Harassment That Exacerbated His Symptoms

By Reba Weiss and Harrison Owens

ptsd puzzleIn Mesmer v. Charter Communications, Inc., a District Court in Washington found that a correspondence coordinator had claims of interference with his FMLA rights, failure to accommodate his PTSD, and sexual harassment under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD).  In his complaint, the coordinator claimed that he suffered from PTSD symptoms and his employer failed to accommodate his disability, subjected him to sexual harassment by a male coworker, and his employer willfully violated his FMLA rights by firing him for attempting to take medical leave.  The District Court found that the coordinator had stated sufficient facts to support his claims, and that his lawsuit should be heard at trial.

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Worker May Bring Lawsuit for Failure to Accommodate Although Disability Not Recognized Under ADA

By Reba Weiss and Harrison Owens

shy bladderIn Oberti v. Pacific Maritime Association, et al. the District Court held that an employee could continue a claim for failure to accommodate under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) although his “shy bladder syndrome” is not considered a disability under the ADA[1].  In his suit, the employee claimed that his employer failed to accommodate his disability when it discharged him for failing to provide a urine sample for a drug test.  The District Court found that the employee showed that his disability was medically diagnosable and substantially limited his employment, his employer did not engage in the interactive process, and his employer did not provide accommodation.

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Court Holds that Provisional Elementary Counselor Was Not Eligible for Arbitration Under the CBA

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Jordan L. Jones

progressiveIn Spokane Sch. Dist. No. 81 v. Spokane Educ. Ass’n, the Washington Court of Appeals, Division Three held that a provisional elementary counselor was not eligible for arbitration under the collective-bargaining agreement (CBA).

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PERC Holds That The Port of Bellingham Did Not Commit A ULP When It Transferred Daily Inspection Duties Away From Its Maintenance Employees

By Chris Casillas and Jordan L. Jones

conveyor-beltIn Port of Bellingham, PERC Examiner Martin held that the employer did not commit a ULP by transferring daily inspection duties away from its maintenance employees without first providing an opportunity to bargain. Examiner Martin noted that the Port did not have an obligation to bargain in this case because (1) the work was so briefly assigned to the maintenance bargaining unit, (2) non-bargaining unit employees had also been performing the work, and (3) by the time the work was transferred to other port employees it was fundamentally different from the maintenance bargaining unit’s regular work.

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PERC Holds that Central Washington University Committed a ULP When It Contracted Out a Roofing Project Without First Providing Notice to and an Opportunity to Bargain With the Maintenance Mechanics Union

By Chris Casillas and Jordan L. Jones

opportunityIn Central Washington University, PERC Examiner Slone-Gomez held that the University committed a ULP when it contracted out a roofing project without first providing notice to and an opportunity to bargain with the Maintenance Mechanics Union in violation of RCW 41.80.110(1)(a) and (e).

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Married Homosexual Employee Has Valid Gender Discrimination Claim Against Employer Who Denied Spousal Health Benefits

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

gay marriageIn Hall v. BNSF Railway Company, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington found that a homosexual male employee stated a valid gender discrimination claim against his employer for denying health benefits to his husband. The Court refused to dismiss what it determined to be a valid gender discrimination claim where the male employee and his male partner were legally married and BNSF provided coverage for the male spouses of female employees.

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Panic Prone Former Deli Manager Can Sue Former Employer for Violating Washington Law Against Discrimination

By Reba Weiss and Brennen Johnson

boss yelling 2In Banks v. Yoke’s Foods, a U.S. District Court in Washington State denied a grocery company’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a former deli manager. In her lawsuit, the former employee alleged that the company wrongfully demoted (and eventually fired) her because of her anxiety disorder, in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination. The company requested that the Court dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the former employee failed to allege that her disability was a substantial factor in her termination. The Court concluded that the former employee had alleged sufficient facts to support an inference that the company had discriminated against her based on her anxiety disorder.

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The Commission Reverses an Examiner’s Decision and Holds that the Port of Anacortes Did Commit a ULP When It Unilaterally Ended a Light Duty Assignment

By Chris Casillas and Jordan Jones

project_proposalIn Port of Anacortes, the Commission reversed an Examiner’s decision that the Employer did not unilaterally change working conditions by ending the use of a light duty assignment without providing notice to the Union and an opportunity to bargain. The Commission held that the Examiner incorrectly analyzed the issue as to whether the Employer unilaterally changed a past practice. The Commission stated that in cases involving newly organized bargaining units who had not finished negotiating their first CBAs, the issue is whether the Employer unilaterally changed the status quo without bargaining.

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Washington State Supreme Court Decides Legislature Can Repeal Laws Granting Cost of Living Adjustments and Gain Sharing Benefits in PERS Pensions

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

costs and benefitsIn two linked lawsuits filed by the Washington Education Association against the Washington Department of Retirement Systems, the Washington Supreme Court determined that the State may repeal the gain sharing benefits and certain cost of living adjustments attached to pension plans of State employees. A coalition of organizations representing state employees filed the lawsuits in an effort to invalidate the legislature’s actions in 2007, and 2011, that repealed these benefits. However, the Court determined that the State was allowed to repeal the benefits because the laws that initially conferred the benefits did so gratuitously, anticipated a possible repeal, and did not bestow contract rights upon employees.

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Washington Court of Appeals Decides that Doctor Can Sue Hospital for Racial Discrimination After Revoking Hospital Privileges

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

head in sandIn Sambasivan v. Kadlec Medical Center, Division III of the Washington State Court of Appeals, overturned the dismissal of a doctor’s racial discrimination and retaliation claims. The Indian doctor sued the Hospital after it implemented a proficiency standard that prevented him from practicing his specialty. The trial court dismissed his claims, finding that the doctor lacked the necessary relationships with the Hospital to allow his lawsuit. However, the Court of Appeals reversed that decision, holding that such claims could be brought when the Hospital interfered with the doctor’s right to make additional contracts with the Hospital and obtain new patients when the doctor was acting as an independent contractor for the Hospital in certain functions.

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