FAQs For Individuals

Ironically, it is easier to get such benefits if you have been discharged, or fired, by your employer. In Washington and most places, the employer has the burden of proof to establish that you were fired for misconduct. The law identifies several examples of misconduct such as dishonesty and insubordination. It basically requires your employer to show you deliberately violated a rule or policy knowing the consequences or otherwise violated standards of behavior that the employer had a right to expect of you. Most important, your inability to perform your job to an employer’s satisfaction is not disqualifying nor is violating certain rules or policies.

Generally, an abusive boss or coworker who bullies you and causes you significant distress is not acting illegally. For such behavior to establish an unlawful hostile work environment, there is a requirement for the harasser’s conduct to be motivated by the victim’s gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, religion, gender identity or expression, or other status protected by law. A hostile work environment is a form of employment discrimination that does not have to cause you to lose pay or to suffer a demotion or other employment action that affects you economically.

Although this sounds like a simple question, disability accommodation usually involves a case-by-case analysis and an individualized assessment of an individual’s limitations and restrictions, including whether they are temporary or permanent, and other factors. Most large employers are required at a minimum to assist you in locating a suitable positon if your existing job cannot be modified or if other forms of accommodation are not successful. To be considered reasonable, an accommodation must not pose an undue hardship on the employer, and employers are not required to create a job or displace another person from a job. Also, note that many physical and mental health conditions are considered disabilities covered by insurance benefits or workers’ compensation because they significantly limit a person’s ability to work at any job. These conditions are not always considered a disability that requires accommodation on the job under our civil rights laws.

Employment “at will” means that a job is not guaranteed or permanent in nature. Washington law generally permits employees in non-union private sector jobs to be discharged because of arbitrary or unjust actions. Although there are exceptions for certain conduct, an employer generally does not need to have a good reason or give you notice of any issues before termination of employment. For this reason, the language in many employment handbooks requiring progressive discipline is usually not legally enforceable. Similarly, although many think you need to give two weeks’ notice, employees are free to quit at any time.

FAQs For Attorneys

Rates vary from flat fees to hourly depending on the nature of the assignment, the time urgency, and other factors. Discovery and investigation may be charged at a different rate than legal research and briefing. A budget is always discussed and if it significantly underestimates the time needed for the desired work, I always consult with the attorney before incurring that expense.

If there are extensive paper documents to review I am available to come to your office, but for research and writing projects, I prefer to work remotely to avoid unnecessary expense.

Aside from LexisNexis and Westlaw, today there are many reliable online research tools available to small firms and solo practitioners including Casemaker, Google Scholar, and Findlaw. In addition, with electronic filing increasing in federal, state and county trial courts, documents can be retrieved easily and remotely with minimal cost.