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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Washington State Patrol May Have Discriminatorily Fired a Black Female Cadet Despite Multiple Failed Tests

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

Discrimination1In Davis v. State of Washington, the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division I, reversed the dismissal of a gender and race discrimination claim filed by a Washington State Patrol Cadet. The former Cadet sued the State of Washington claiming that race and gender played a substantial role in the Washington State Patrol Training Academy’s decision to terminate her from the program. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit before trial after determining that the State had provided a legitimate reason for terminating the Cadet. The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal finding that the Cadet had shown that, even if a legitimate reason existed for her termination, the decision still might have been substantially motivated by race or gender discrimination.

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Washington State Supreme Court Decides That Damages For Wrongful Denial Of Health Benefits Can Include Deferred Costs And Lost Health And Longevity Of Employees

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

bad money 2In Becker v. Community Health Systems, Inc., Division III of the Washington State Court of Appeals determined that a Chief Financial Officer could sue his former employer for firing him when he refused to submit a false or misleading financial report. Although the Company sought to dismiss the CFO’s lawsuit, the Court decided that the former CFO could pursue a state common law claim for “wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.”

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Washington State Supreme Court Decides that Damages for Wrongful Denial of Health Benefits Can Include Deferred Costs and Lost Health and Longevity of Part-Time Employees

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

BacteriaIn Moore v. Washington State Health Care Authority, the Washington State Supreme Court determined that State employees who were wrongfully denied health care benefits were entitled to the value that the benefits would have cost the State. Although the State argued that it should only be responsible for the out-of-pocket costs that employees paid for healthcare during the time they were denied benefits, the Court determined otherwise. The Court decided that such a method for measuring what the State owed the employees would fail to account for all of the damage that was inflicted on the employees through the denial of benefits.

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Washington Court of Appeals Determines that Civil Service Commission Lacks Authority to Oversee Remedies for Employer Wrongful Conduct

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

pickpocket-illustration-thieving-43027673In City of Medina v. Skinner, the Washington Court of Appeals, Division I, determined that the Civil Service Commission lacks the authority to award back pay for wrongful terminations or suspensions. The City of Medina asked the State Court system for relief from a Commission decision in which the Commission modified the discipline of a Medina Police Lieutenant and specifically awarded him back pay and benefits at a pay scale starting from the time when he would have returned from the modified suspension. The Court determined that the Commission lacked the authority to award back pay and overruled the Commission’s decision, as far as it ordered the City to pay the former Lieutenant.

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PERC Holds that Kitsap County Failed to Bargain in Good Faith After it “Effectively Hamstrung” Employer Representatives with Insufficient Authority at the Bargaining Table

By Chris Casillas and Jordan L. Jones

kitsap hogtiedIn Kitsap County, PERC Examiner Dianne Ramerman held that the Employer “failed to bargain in good faith and committed a ULP in violation of RCW 41.56.140(4) and derivatively interfered with employee rights in violation of RCW 41.56.140(1).” Examiner Ramerman found that Kitsap County’s “representatives at the table [with the Kitsap County Juvenile Detention Officers’ Guild] did not have sufficient authority to engage in meaningful bargaining.” Specifically, Examiner Ramerman found that Kitsap County’s representatives at the table were:

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