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A new statewide leave law that has taken many employers by surprise

In November 2016, Washington voters passed Initiative 1433, best known for increasing Washington’s minimum wage to one of the highest in the nation. However, I-1433 also included a requirement for statewide paid sick leave (“PSL”) for non-exempt employees that has caught many employers by surprise.

The PSL law becomes effective on January 1, 2018, and the Department of Labor and Industries (“L&I”) just published final administrative rules about the law’s requirements. All Washington employers need to review these requirements and take action to ensure compliance.

Umbrella - SeattleInitiative 124 (aka I-124), the ballot measure approved by voters in November 2016 that establishes several new purported "safety and health" standards for hotel employees in the city of Seattle, opens the door for unprecedented exposures for Seattle's hotel operators. Since its enactment last December, Initiative 124 has given rise to several questions about how, if at all, insurance policies might respond to allegations under the new law.

As lawyers, we’re responsible not only for knowing the existing law, but also keeping a close eye on proposed legislation.  This week, Employment law specialist, Mike Brunet, highlights two proposed bills, one national and one local, that could have a huge impact on the hospitality industry.

We rarely publicly celebrate the successes of our hospitality and tourism clients. Tuesday's launch of the proposed Seattle Tourism Improvement Area (STIA) initiative at The Pacific Science Center is one of the best reasons I've seen in some time to break that rule. 

Last week the Seattle Hotel Association presented the 6th installment of its annual symposium and economic forecast. Like years past, this year's program featured a terrific line up of local and regional experts, including Matthew Gardner (Gardner Economics), Vail Brown (STR), Lee McCabe (Expedia), Chris Kraus (PKF) and Tom Norwalk and Jerri Lane (Seattle King County Convention and Visitor's Bureau). Local general managers and directors of sales and marketing have come to rely on the Association's annual symposium as an important part of their annual budgeting process.

Employment Law specialist, Mike Brunet, details a growing trend and how it will impact the Seattle-area hospitality industry.

This week’s topic may appear limited in scope, but is representative of a national and local trend. On April 25, 2011, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed an amendment to the City of Seattle’s municipal code to define and punish “wage theft,” the practice of improperly withholding amounts owed to employees. Seattle thus joins a growing number of jurisdictions, including Miami-Dade County, FL, and the cities of Austin, TX, Denver, CO, Kansas City, KS, and San Francisco, CA in having a specific law in place to combat wage theft. A number of legislators in cities, counties, and states around the nation are considering pending bills that would add to this list. Although the goals of Seattle’s Wage Theft Ordinance may be laudable, the scope of the bill could cause well-meaning employers, including hoteliers and restaurateurs, to unintentionally run afoul of it.

Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of the Seattle Convention & Visitor's Bureau has issued an Urgent Action Request. Yesterday, House Ways & Means Chair Rep. Ross Hunter's (D-Medina) released his proposed 2011 Supplemental Budget, which eliminates funding for activities to promote tourism, effective March 1, 2011 - three months earlier than anticipated. Clearly, this proposed budget bodes ill for Washington State tourism. The text of Tom's request is below. Please consider taking appropriate action:

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Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs GSB’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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