The Washington case

In Washington, employees are assumed to be ‘at will’. At-will employees lack security of tenure as their employment may be terminated for whatever reason. However, the reasons for dismissal must not be against the legal provisions. In reference to contracted workers, a termination of employment only proceeds if the contract expressly captures the reasons which pave way for a dismissal from duty. What emerges on the basis of the ‘at-will’ employment rests on the fact that work security is not guaranteed.

To take care of this, in the state of Washington require that an employee must prove that the employer has provided clear and unequivocal statements regarding job security. The most notable exception regarding employment-at will is related to public policy. This regards as wrongful dismissal if an employee is discharged off his duties if in terminating a contract, the employer acts in ways contrary to the Washington state policies. An illustration of such would be discharging an employee on the basis of filing a workers’ compensation claim.

The Washington labor laws do not require an employer to have an employee handbook. However, it remains advisable for an employer to keep one owing to the benefits such a book derives to an employer. Such benefits derived from an employee handbook include the provision of complete, centralized, and certain records of an employer regarding procedures and policies. The handbook also avails a convenient access by both managers and employees. An employee handbook should have certain features.

Such features as equal opportunity employment, a statement on at-will employment, a policy guideline regarding abuses at the workplace such as sexual harassment, medical cover, and internet access. In Washington, it is under certain circumstances whereby the at-will assumption can possibly be overcome through the creation of a just employment association. This is created to serve legitimate expectations which are grounded on an employee’s expectations. This is indicated by the employee manual which shows conditions under which termination of employment can be executed.

The handbook also outlines the responsibilities and duties of an employee, an issue which calls for caution when entering employment contracts, as a result, it is critical that expert opinion from qualified attorneys is sought. The federal laws require that employers prepare a working place in ways which create a favorable work environment. In this regards, a working place must be free from hazards which hold the potential of causing injury or grievous harm to the employees while discharging their duties. The law offers protection to employees as it frees them to report working environments which they may perceive as unsafe.

Workplace Safety The creation of the Occupational Safety Health Administration in 1971 is a pointer to the seriousness the federal private labor law has assigned to the safety aspect of the work environment. The OSHA is charged wit the responsibility of developing and enforcing health and safety programs throughout the country. However, the federal government allows the state governments to create their own safety guidelines and enforce them is s far as such do not constitute a violation of the federal laws.

On this front, the Washington state chose to run a program distinct to its requirements. As a result most employers in the state remain subject to the laws as enforced by the Washington State Labor and Industries Department instead of the OSHA. OSHA coverage does not extend to areas of work in which nonfederal employees, federal employees, and military workers offer services. Employees engaged in floating work sites and those working for tribal employers stationed on tribal lands are also not covered by the OSHA.

It is required by the Washington industrial safety and health act to provide safety to all employees in all workplaces. This gives the labor and industry department a responsibility of establishing, developing, and enforcing health and safety regulations at the workplace. This goal is achieved through carrying out investigations and inspections. The department also offers consultancy, training, technical assistance, grants and education to various workplaces in the pursuit of its mission. WISHA is charged with the task of getting to enforce the labor laws in the state of Washington.

If the inspectors find an employer violating the provisions, such individuals or entities are put on the defense. Inspections are carried out without advance notices with a view to finding the exact state of workplace conditions. In this exercise, injuries and deaths arising from work environments are investigated and appropriate action taken. If it is established by WISHA that violations have been done, the agency issues a citation to the concerned employer and imposes a penalty depending on the gravity of the violation.