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Washington state lawmakers vote to expand worker protections

Washington capitol

A bill expanding protections for workers in Washington state who report safety violations will be sent to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

H.B. 1097 passed the House in a 53-44 vote in March and the Senate in a 30-19 vote on April 6. The House on Tuesday reaffirmed its passage with Senate amendments in a 53-45 vote.

The legislation would amend existing worker protection laws by prohibiting employers from taking materially adverse actions that would deter employees from exercising their rights or have a chilling effect on their engagement in protected activities.

The bill states that employers found in violation of these rules may be assessed penalties and be required to restore the worker to their position prior to the complaint and pay earnings the worker did not receive due to the discriminatory action, including interest. It also provides for civil penalties, which would be in line with current federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines.

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1, 2022.