Washington Termination (with Discharge) laws & HR compliance analysis

Washington Termination (with Discharge): What you need to know

Washington is an “employment-at-will” state. This means that an employer or employee may generally terminate an employment relationship at any time and for any reason, unless an agreement or law provides otherwise. For example, federal or state law, a collective bargaining agreement, or an individual employment contract may place limitations on an otherwise at-will relationship.
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As a general rule, if a federal, state, or local law grants employees the right to engage in an activity or to enjoy a benefit, employees should never be disciplined, discharged, or otherwise retaliated against for requesting or attempting to do so.
To list a few key examples, state law prohibits employers from discharging employees for engaging in the following activities:
Garnishment. No employer may discharge an employee because his or her wages are garnished. However, the law does not apply to employees that have three or more separate garnishments within any 12-month period (WA Rev. Code Sec. 6.27.170).
Genetic tests. State law provides that employers cannot require employees to submit genetic information or submit to genetic screening as a condition of employment or continued employment (WA Rev. Code Sec. 49.44.180).
Jury duty. Washington law requires employers to allow employees sufficient time off to serve as jurors when summoned, and employers may not discipline or discharge employees for absence resulting from such service.
The law applies to all employers, and employers that violate this law are guilty of a misdemeanor. An employer that is sued by an employee for violation of this law may be ordered to reinstate the employee and pay damages and attorneys' fees (WA Rev. Code ...

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