Washington State
House of Representatives
Office of Program Research

Commerce & Labor Committee

HB 2602

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Regarding employment leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Sponsors: Representatives Kessler, Dickerson, Williams, O'Brien, Hurst, Lantz, Moeller, Hasegawa, Pedersen, Ormsby, VanDeWege, Conway, Goodman, Hudgins, Santos, Campbell, Upthegrove, Chase, Darneille, Barlow, Green and Simpson.

Brief Summary of Bill
  • Requires employers to provide reasonable leave to employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or whose family members are victims.

Hearing Date: 1/25/08

Staff: Joan Elgee (786-7106).


Under federal and state family leave laws, larger employers must grant family leave to employees who meet certain requirements. Family leave may be taken for the birth and care of a child, the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and for the employee's own or a family member's serious health condition. Beginning in October 2009, paid family leave will be available for certain employees for the birth and care of a child or placement of a child for adoption.

The state family care law applies to nearly all employers. Under this law, employees may use sick leave and other paid time off to care for: (1) a child with a health condition that requires treatment or supervision; or (2) certain relatives with a serious health or emergency condition.

Individuals who voluntarily leave work because of domestic violence or stalking are entitled to unemployment benefits under some circumstances.

Summary of Bill:

Findings and Declaration
: The Legislature finds that it is in the public interest to reduce domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by enabling victims to maintain the financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, achieve safety, and minimize physical and emotional injuries, and to reduce the devastating economic consequences of these crimes to employers and employees.

Leave: An employee may take reasonable leave from work, intermittent leave, or leave on a reduced leave schedule for specified activities related to an employee or family member being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. These activities are to:

The leave is with or without pay. The employee may choose to use sick leave and other paid time off, compensatory time, or unpaid leave time.

A "family member" is a child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or person with whom the employee has a dating relationship. A "dating relationship" is a social relationship of a romantic nature.

"Domestic violence," "sexual assault," and "stalking" are defined by reference to existing definitions in various laws.

Eligibility: Any employee working for an employer of one more persons, including a public employer, is eligible for the leave.

Notice/verification: An employee must give an employer reasonable advance notice of the employee's intention to take leave, unless notice is not practicable.

An employer may require verification that the employee or the family member is a victim and that the leave was taken for one of the permitted purposes. Verification must be provided in a timely manner. If reasonable advance notice of the leave is not practicable, verification must be provided within a reasonable time during or after the leave. Verification may be satisfied by providing:

Verification of familial status may be made by a statement from the employee, a birth certificate, a court document, or other similar documentation.
Confidentiality: An employee is not required to produce or discuss any information with the employer beyond the scope of the verification, or that would compromise the employee's or family member's safety. An employer must maintain the confidentiality of all notice and verification information unless requested or consent to by the employee, ordered by a court or administrative agency, or otherwise required by law.

Job protection: Upon return from leave, an employer must restore the employee to his or her former position or a position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employer must also maintain coverage under any health insurance plan to the extent allowed by law.

Relationship with other laws: The leave rights are in addition to other rights. Nothing in the provisions shall discourage employers from adopting greater leave rights for victims or to diminish an employer's obligation to comply with any collective bargaining agreement, or any benefit program or plan that provides greater leave rights.

Administrative remedy: The Department of Labor & Industries (Department) must investigate complaints that the law has been violated. An employer may be fined up to $500 for the first infraction and $1,000 for a subsequent infraction within three years of a previous infraction. The Director of the Department may also order the employer to restore the employee to his or her former position or an equivalent position.

Civil remedy: Regardless of whether the employee complained to the Department and regardless of any finding under an administrative action, an employee injured by a violation has a civil cause of action to enjoin further violations and to recover actual damages, reasonable attorneys' fees, and costs.

Discrimination: It is a violation to discriminate against an employee for exercising his or her rights, filing a complaint, or participating or assisting in another employee's attempt to exercise rights under the provisions.

Publicity: The Department must include notice of the provisions in the next reprinting of employment posters and employers must post the notice. Prosecuting attorney and victim/witness offices are encouraged to make information about the provisions available for distribution. In any criminal or juvenile court proceeding, victims must be notified of their right to reasonable leave under the provisions.

Rules Authority: The Director of the Department of Labor & Industries must adopt rules to implement the provisions.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill contains an emergency clause and takes effect immediately.