Washington Labor Law Blog: Insights on the Law for Washington Employers

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What happens if you fire an employee who has given notice?

One of your non-exempt employees, Robert, tells you he is quitting in four weeks. You will be sorry to see him go, but you appreciate the notice.

Over the next few weeks, you find a replacement to start the Monday after Robert’s last day. You start to notice, though, that Robert’s heart is not in his work. He slacks off a lot and talks constantly to coworkers about his future plans. On Thursday of Robert’s last week, you decide you’ve had enough. You are better off without him and tell him you are making Thursday his last day. You do not pay him for Friday because you know you do not have to pay non-exempt employees when they don’t work.

Is Robert eligible for unemployment benefits?

Probably. An employee whose job ends because of a voluntary quit is disqualified for unemployment benefits unless the quit is for “good cause.” The statute sets out a specific list of reasons that constitute good cause and none of the reasons apply here. See RCW 50.20.050. On the other hand, a discharged employee is eligible for benefits absent specific reasons considered disqualifying “misconduct.” See RCW 50.04.294.

Here, and although each case has to be decided on its specific facts, even though Robert was going to work only one more day, his job did not end because he quit. It ended because he was discharged. And because nothing he did would likely rise to the level of “misconduct,” he will probably be eligible for benefits.

If, on the other hand, the employer had paid Robert through Friday, you get a different result. Paying the employee through their notice period preserves the “voluntary quit” nature of the resignation making the employee in most cases, ineligible for unemployment benefits.

 

 

NLRB guidance on acceptable Social Media policies

National Labor Relations Board Acting General Counsel Lafe Salomon today issued a third report on social medial cases brought before the NRLB. The report details seven cases that came before the Board and identifies which policies the Board found unlawfully overbroad and which lawful. The NLRB rules apply to both union and non-union employers. Whether… Continue Reading

Still time to cComment on Seattle’s Paid Sick/Safe Leave Rules

The proposed administrative rules for Seattle’s new Sick/Safe Leave Ordinance are posted here. The period for public comment ends April 30th. If you missed the public meetings, you can still comment via e-mail to rulecomment@seattle.gov or by mail to: Seattle Office for Civil Rights 810 Third Ave., Suite 750 Seattle, WA  98104-1627 Attn:  Paid Sick/Safe… Continue Reading

NLRB administrative law judge concludes discharge for Facebook posts was unlawful.

Hispanics United of Buffalo, (HUB) provides services to low-income clients.  One HUB employee posted the following message on her Facebook account about a coworker, Lydia Cruz-Moore, who had been complaining about coworkers via text messages and who had indicated she was going to take her complaint to management: Lydia Cruz, a coworker feels that we… Continue Reading

Washington Employers Get Rare Break From Supreme Court

Washington employers got a rare break from the Washington State Supreme Court on Thursday in a 5/4 decision (Wiggins did not participate) holding that employees cannot rely on WISHA to state a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Matthew Cudney was discharged after complaining to management that his branch general manager was driving… Continue Reading

NLRB Advice Memo Concludes Facebook Post Not Unlawful

In another in a series of advice memoranda from the NLRB regarding social media, the NLRB concluded the discharge of a crane operator because of his Facebook did not violate the NLRA because there was no protected concerted activity.  The Advice Memorandum, regarding Helser Industries, is here. A co-worker of the crane operator informed a… Continue Reading

New Rule Requires Notice of Rights under the NLRA

Today the NLRB issued its final rule requiring that employers subject to the NLRA post a detailed notice regarding employees’ rights under the Act.  The notice sets out a detailed description of employee rights under the NLRA, consequences for violations of those rights, and how to contact the NLRB regarding questions or violations.  The final rule,… Continue Reading

EEOC Presentation on Social Media in the Workplace

You can download my PowerPoint slides from my Social Media in the Workplace presentation at the EEOC’s Annual Seminar in Seattle here. An online database of 177 social media policies is here. The NLRB Acting General Counsel’s summary of social media cases before Board is here. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s summary of social media… Continue Reading

Signs That Employees Will Lose Their Discrimination Case

In my experience as a manager before going to law school and in my practice as an management-side employment lawyer, many discharged employees fail to accept any responsibility for the discharge.   How many times has a friend told you, “I was let go for poor performance, and, you know, they were right.”  Instead, the employees… Continue Reading