SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS
Wrongful Termination and Severance Agreements
Loss of employment has been recognized as one of the top five stressors in life. Negotiation of the terms of that separation can ease that stress. Not all unfair or unjust firings are illegal. Patty has successfully negotiated agreements for clients facing unexpected termination of employment, thereby assisting the client’s successful transition to new employment without hindrance by past conflicts. Patty also assists clients in evaluating whether their employment conflicts can be investigated, addressed, and resolved through methods other than litigation.
In any unexpected period of unemployment, receipt and retention of unemployment insurance benefits provide some economic support when it is most needed. In recent years, a significant portion of Patty’s practice has been devoted to securing and defending unemployment compensation benefits when individuals face employer challenges or just need help navigating through the many levels of this bureaucracy.
Harassment and Hostile Work Environments
Harassment in the workplace is still a reality for many individuals. Individuals who have experienced bullying and abusive treatment from coworkers and supervisors still have limited legal options because such harassment is not always recognized as unlawful. Patty consults with individuals experiencing abuse, intimidation, threats, and hostility at work to evaluate the options for addressing those concerns. She has counseled and advised current employees experiencing all forms of illegal harassment and hostile work environments based on sex, race, age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, creed, political ideology, and other areas protected by law.
Hostile work environments are just one form of illegal discrimination. Washington law recognizes that other forms of unlawful discrimination are “a matter of state concern…. [that] menaces the institutions and foundations of a free democratic state.” RCW 49.60.010. In response to such an environment Patty can evaluate, investigate, and actively support resolution in discrimination claims involving promotion, assignment, training, race, gender, age, disability, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and religion. Patty has represented individuals with these concerns at enforcement agencies and has resolved city, state and federal charges with remedies designed to deter future acts of retaliation.
Retaliation and Whistle Blowing
Nonetheless, many people do experience retaliation and reprisal as a result of opposing what they believe to be unfair or illegal employment practices, participating in internal and external workplace investigations, supporting co-workers, or exercising other legal rights. Others choose to speak out on issues of public concern and are targeted by their employers because of such actions. These cases continue to increase despite increased protection for such conduct. Patty has represented individuals who have experienced such conduct.
Wage and Hour Disputes and Other New Labor Standards
Washington and federal law is undergoing significant change in overtime, minimum wage, and other expansions of labor standards in such areas as safe scheduling, paid sick leave, wage theft, and paid family leave. As with discrimination claims, individuals have the option to formally complain to governmental enforcement agencies or to seek private enforcement through retaining counsel. Patty has successfully represented individuals with these claims in both settings.
Patty has advised union members by evaluating claims that may exist beyond the collective bargaining agreement’s grievance process. She has a proven track record of working collaboratively with unions to comprehensively resolve issues so that employees feel their issues were fully heard and addressed. Patty also has counseled individuals concerned with the adequacy of their union representation and individuals who have experienced diverse forms of illegal discrimination in education, housing, and places of public accommodation.