Employment Law

Whistleblower Retaliation and Severance Package Negotiation

Washington State’s Law against Discrimination (WLAD) and related statutes have teeth, and they are liberally construed in favor of employees who have been subjected to illegal treatment by their employers. These laws have a strong, explicitly stated desire to protect workers from retaliation for exercising certain protected rights, too many to enumerate.

Everybody with a work history knows what retaliation looks like, has seen some form of it through their family, friends or work. Here are some examples you may recognize:

  • Did your work conditions change when you challenged or rebuffed sexual advances or harassment by your boss?
  • After suffering an on-the-job injury and filing a Labor & Industries claim, did you lose your job?
  • Did you complain about workplace safety to a public regulatory agency or your boss, and then have your hours or responsibilities reduced?
  • After confronting sexually inappropriate words, texts, emails, pictures, did you start getting disciplined for minor, nitpicky things?
  • After challenging your employer for something you felt was wrong or illegal, did you get demoted?
  • After you reported to HR your candid assessment about the workplace, did your evaluations deteriorate from “valued” to “endangered” employee?
  • After engaging in free speech did your job become miserable and you started to dread going to work at a job you previously loved?
  • Did you rely on an Employee Handbook promise of confidentiality, only to discover that promise was not true, to your detriment?

If you feel you have experienced workplace retaliation, there may be a remedy. Maybe it’s time to get on down the road, time to move on. Maybe your employer wants you gone as much as you would like to oblige them. If so, how do you exit with the least damage? Maybe it’s time to consider negotiating an exit strategy. Maybe it’s time to file suit. Maybe I can help.

Feel free to contact me to learn more.

Representative Cases

Less than 5% of all cases that are filed actually go to trial, historically. A small percentage of those are appealed and make new law. Over the past four decades I’ve handled cases that have made new law nationally under the Constitution, and in Washington state courts for WLAD retaliation clients. Some representative cases are:

Martinez v. City of Tacoma, 81 Wn. App. 228, 914 P.2d 86 (1996) (WLAD retaliation verdict for Mr. Martinez against his employer, Tacoma Human Rights Commission, established right to full attorney fee award for all reasonable time, regardless of amount of verdict).

Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) (criminal defense of Mr. Crawford in Thurston County attempted murder case led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s significant, unanimous expansion of the 6th Amendment right of confrontation).

Frunz v. City of Tacoma, 468 F.3d 1141 (9th Cir. 2006) (Federal 4th Amendment warrantless search and seizure violations, and excessive use of force verdict for Ms. Frunz affirmed on appeal; constitutional protections clarified and expanded).

Currier v. Northland Servs., Inc., 182 Wn. App. 733, 332 P.3d 1006 (2014) (WLAD retaliation verdict for Mr. Currier as an independent contractor after opposing what he reasonably perceived to be discriminatory acts under state law against discrimination).