On May 11, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee signed ESHB 1097, amending the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act’s (WISHA) anti-retaliation provision by explicitly prohibiting acts that would deter reasonable employees from exercising their rights under the Act and expanding the time for filing a workplace safety complaint with the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) from 30 days to 90 days. The bill also establishes procedures for an employer to contest an order of immediate restraint (OIR) by L&I. An OIR requires an employer to immediately address a dangerous workplace condition. The bill allows the employer to appeal alleged violations of the OIR and authorizes imposing daily penalties for violation of the OIR. In addition, the legislation creates a grant program assisting small businesses (those with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees), in purchasing equipment or gear or making capital improvements to meet new safety and health requirements related to a state of emergency proclamation. Most of the changes take effect July 24, 2021, except for the anti-retaliation provision, which takes effect July 1, 2022.
Tips: Proper documentation can provide evidence to support your lawful employment decisions. If an employee raises a workplace safety concern, it’s going to be very difficult to address any performance problems if you weren’t already bringing those problems to their attention and documenting your communications before they reported the safety concern. If you take any adverse action such as denial of a job opportunity or termination of employment, you may face a retaliation claim. If your supervisors need a refresher or initial training on how to efficiently and effectively document employee performance and disciplinary actions, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney for documentation training options.