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Published on Friday, January 20, 2017

Hearings scheduled this week on new employee protections and workers’ compensation reform bills

During this third week of session, House and Senate committees are scheduled to hear a number of personnel bills.

The House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee is scheduled to hear:

  • The Employee Anti-Retaliation Act, HB 1301, which would establish a new cause of action against an employer who violates wage and hour rights and establishes penalties. The Department of Labor & Industries would be responsible for accepting and investigating complaints.
  • A “ban the box” bill, HB 1298, which would prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on employment applications or prior to determining an applicant is qualified for a position. The prohibition would not apply to positions that work unsupervised with children or vulnerable persons, law enforcement, or criminal justice agencies, or other positions where there is a federal requirement to consider an applicant’s criminal history.
  • New employment protections for medical marijuana patients, HB 1094, which would prohibit employment discrimination against medical marijuana patients, including a positive drug test. The protections do not apply if an employee uses, possesses, or is impaired by marijuana in the workplace or if it would cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law.

The Senate Commerce, Labor, and Sports Committee will hear two proposals addressing workers compensation issues. Neither bill has been formally introduced, but drafts have been made available through the committee.

  • The first bill would require an employer’s written approval for any third-party settlement if the cost will be included in the employer’s experience factor.
  • The second bill is being promoted by a number of employers and would enact a number of changes to the workers’ compensation system, including:
    • Allowing self-insured employers to handle their own claims;
    • Clarifying how recovery is handled in third-party legal actions;
    • Ensuring occupational disease claims arise out of and in the course of work; and
    • Lowering the age for settlement of non-medical claims.

AWC will follow all of these proposals and keep you updated.

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