Piece Rate Agricultural Workers Are Entitled To Pay During Rest Breaks

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Harrison Owens

cherry-bombIn Demetrio v. Sakuma Brothers Farms, Inc., the Washington State Supreme Court found that piece rate workers must be paid for rest breaks, and they must be paid the higher rate of pay, either the minimum wage or the regular rate of pay.  In their complaint, agricultural workers paid based on the number of “pieces” of output they produced asked the Court to determine whether they were entitled to paid rest breaks, and if so how much they must be paid.  The Court stated that piece rate workers were entitled to paid rest breaks under Washington law, and the rate had to be the greater of workers’ regular rate of pay or the applicable minimum wage.

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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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Washington Supreme Court Holds that DSHS Violated the Implied Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in its Contracts with In-Home Care Providers

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Jordan L. Jones

in-home-health-careIn Rekhter v. Wash. Social & Health Servs. Dep’t, the Washington Supreme Court (WASC) upheld a jury finding that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS or State) violated the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in its contracts with in-home care providers (providers). The WASC also held that the trial judge correctly granted summary judgment to DSHS on the providers’ claims that the State (1) wrongfully withheld wages in violation of RCW 49.52.050 and .070 and (2) failed to pay the providers for all hours worked, in violation of the Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA).

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The Washington Supreme Court Holds That A Trial Court Improperly Granted Summary Judgment and Dismissed Plaintiffs’ Wage Claims

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Jordan L. Jones

minimum-wage_300x300In Becerra Becerra v. Expert Janitorial, LLC, the Washington Supreme Court (WASC) held that a trial court improperly granted summary judgment to Fred Meyer on the issue of “joint employers” and remanded for further proceedings. The WASC stated that “[s]imply put, we find the trial court did not consider all the relevant factors at summary judgment or sufficiently identify why it deemed certain factors to be not relevant.”

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State Supreme Court Holds Oral Argument on Kitsap Retroactive Insurance Case

By Jim Cline

healthcare costsAs we indicated in an earlier blog, the State Supreme Court has accepted review of the Kitsap County retroactive insurance case.  The issues in the case involve whether an employer can retroactively increase health insurance premiums and whether they may also deduct the amount needed to cover the increased premiums from the employee’s paychecks without employee consent.  Our previous blog provides a detailed review of the legal issues before the Court.

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Washington Appeals Court Finds County Employee Is Not Entitled To Compensation For Commuting To Job Site

By Jordan L. Jones

construction-signIn Jensen v. Lincoln County, the Washington Court of Appeals, Division Three (Appeals Court) held that a County Crusher Foreman (Grievant) was not entitled to compensation for the time he spent driving to job sites. The Appeals Court found that the time the Grievant spent commuting to work did not fall under the definition of “hours worked” as defined by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (DLI).

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State Supreme Court to Directly Review Kitsap County Retroactive Insurance Issues

By Jim Cline

health servicesThe Washington State Supreme Court has indicated that it will accept “Direct Review” of Kitsap County’s appeal of the Superior Court ruling from last summer that set aside Arbitrator Howell Lankford’s retroactive imposition of health insurance premium increases in his interest arbitration decision. Direct Review bypasses the Court of Appeals and is generally limited to those cases that the Court deems to be of significant statewide impact or importance.

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Kitsap County Retroactive Insurance Decision: A Closer Look at the Lawsuit and the Constitutional and Statutory Issues

By Jim Cline

Several weeks ago, we published an article on the decision of Pierce County Judge James Orlando to strike the retroactive increase in the Kitsap deputies’ insurance premiums that had been ordered by interest arbitrator Howell Lankford. Because this article seems to have sparked quite a bit of interest, I decided it was worth taking some time to explain the issues and the court’s reasoning in greater detail. Although the County has appealed this decision, and, therefore, an appellate court could modify this result, at the current time, labor unions seeking to resist retroactive changes in their health insurance have a strong argument to present simply by citing to Judge Orlando’s ruling.

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PERC Examiner Dismisses ULP Complaint about Unilateral Change to Sheriff Deputies’ Compensation for Lunch Hour During Trainings

By Therese Norton

The Walla Walla County Commissioned Deputy Sheriff’s Association filed an unfair labor practice complaint alleging that Walla Walla County refused to engage in collective bargaining and interfered with employee rights by unilaterally changing the practice of compensating for the lunch hour during training days. PERC Examiner Slone-Gomez dismissed the complaint, finding that the County did not commit an unfair labor practice because the union failed to prove a “past practice”.  Walla Walla County, Decision 11877 (PECB, 2013).

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