Employment Law Practice – Cline & Associates Attorneys at Law
Not only does Cline and Associates seek to find innovative, creative, and fair resolution of disputes for its labor relations clients, we also bring this approach to individuals who have disputes with their employers. The attorneys at Cline and Associates are committed to seeking justice for individuals who have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against by their employers, have suffered a hostile work environment on the job, or have had their wages withheld. In this capacity, we represent both private and public sector employees, whether or not they are union affiliated and in all industries. Our goals are simple: assisting clients in understanding, protecting and defending their rights in their workplace.
The attorneys in the Employment Law Practice Group at Cline and Associates are dedicated to fighting for employee rights in Washington. Our cases challenge an employer’s right to restrict employees’ use of social media, discrimination based on race and gender, whistleblower retaliation and as well as unlawful practices with respect to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These are just of few of the areas that our Employment Law Group is presently tackling on behalf of aggrieved clients.
There are a variety of federal and state laws that protect employees from overreaching employers. These laws include, but are not limited to, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that regulates minimum wage and overtime laws; the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that regulates protected medical leave for individuals and families; the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) that regulates accommodations for disabled employees; Title VII (federal law) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) which prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on protected categories such as race, gender, national origin, age, disability and other protected categories. Our Employment Law Practice Group also has experience with WARN notices, retaliation charges for whistleblower activities, ERISA benefits, workplace privacy and negotiating on behalf of clients in the mediation and arbitration settings.
Cline and Associates also stand ready to assist clients with wage violations, including failure to pay overtime, break time, or vacation time; misuse or inappropriate handling of employee retirement benefits, misclassification of employees for the purposes of avoiding overtime and payroll taxes, and other unfair labor practices include failure to pay equitable and fair wages, unlawful hiring, recruitment and promotion practices.
Our Employment Law Practice Group team is led by Mitchell Riese. Mitch has been representing employees in a broad range of employment matters for over twenty-five years. He has tried numerous cases to verdict in state and federal court, and has substantial appellate experience as well, having argued cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Washington Supreme Court and the Washington Court of Appeals. His victories include (with co-counsel Dan Gallagher) the precedent-setting Washington Supreme Court decision in Ellis v. City of Seattle, which established new rights for whistleblowing employees.
Anyone who believes that they have been discriminated against by an employer or who has suffered an unlawful employment action in their workplace can call Cline and Associates and request an initial consultation with the Employment Law Practice Group. The initial consultation will generally last an hour, sometimes more. For labor organizations participating in the Premium Information Services Subscription, your subscription hours may be used to pay for this consultation service. If called for, we will contact witnesses and conduct an investigation into the charges. After the initial consultation, attorneys in the Employment Law Practice Group will evaluate your case and advise you whether or not it is worth pursuing in court. Pursuing a lawsuit against your employer is a serious undertaking and may take months or years to litigate. For this reason, the decision to sue and the lawsuit process is fully discussed with each client before a lawsuit is filed.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the discovery process begins. During that process, our team will work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all the relevant documents and information and that your rights are protected. Many cases settle during or after the discovery process; however, some cases go to trial. You can expect the highest level of trial advocacy from our Employment Law Practice Group team.
Key Practice Areas Retaliation/ Retaliatory Discharge
State and Federal law shields employees from being retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct such as reporting discrimination, engaging in whistleblowing activities, requesting authorized leave, making inquiries as to overtime pay, refusing to engage in illegal activity or reporting misconduct and harassment. Employees who have been fired, disciplined or discharged for any one of these activities may be entitled to monetary damages such as back pay, lost wages, lost benefits, emotional suffering as well as punitive damages. If you have been wrongfully disciplined or discharged, Cline and Associates will assist you is making you whole again and achieving a better workplace for aggrieved employees.
It is often difficult for victims of sexual harassment to break the silence and seek assistance. Employees who have been sexually harassed in their workplaces can feel intimidated and embarrassed. Cline and Associates understands the complex issues facing employees who have experienced sexually harassing conduct such as inappropriate or sexually suggestive emails, unwanted touching, derogatory or lewd jokes, sexually explicit comments or photos in the workplace, comments about appearance and clothing, as well as other harassing behavior. Cline and Associates will work to protect the employee and their rights while exposing unlawful conduct and requiring employers to clean up their act.
Gender, Veterans, Disability, Age, Pregnancy, Sexual Orientation, National Origin, Religious Discrimination, and Hostile Work Environments
Employees are protected from discrimination by state and federal law. Applicants are also protected under the laws that prevent discrimination in the workplace. Despite laws that protect employees against discrimination, many employees and applicants experience unlawful, harmful and emotionally debilitating employment practices on a daily basis.
We protect clients who believe they are the victims of racial discrimination, age discrimination under the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), discrimination due to disability under the Americans with Disability Act, which includes failure of an employer to accommodate a disability, gender discrimination either as a man or a woman, pregnancy discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the state equivalent statutes, religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, sexual orientation discrimination, hostility toward immigrants in violation of rights that protect against national origin discrimination along with other forms of discrimination that create hostile work environments, including defamation claims.
If you believe your rights have been violated and you have suffered discrimination due to a trait you possess or your status in a protected class, Cline and Associates is at the ready to seek justice for your injury.
Family and Medical Leave
Federal and State family medical leave laws offer protection to employees who need to take medical time off for their own medical needs and to care for family members. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), along with state counterparts, protect an employee who takes this leave as well as protects against retaliation for having a qualified medical condition. The FMLA also covers leave for childbirth and adoption. The Attorneys in the Employment Law Practice Group have experience assisting clients in enforcing their FMLA rights, including counseling clients who believe their rights have been violated, seeking reinstatement of employees who have been terminated for exercising their rights and filing claims on behalf of employees who have had their FMLA rights abridged.
Covenants to Non-Compete
Cline and Associates clients in reviewing employment agreements that contain agreements, or covenants, that restrict an employee’s ability to pursue employment after termination of an employment relationship. Non-compete agreements should be thoroughly scrutinized by someone legally trained prior to signing to ensure that the employee is not signing away his or her rights or ability to find comparable work in the future.
First Amendment and National Labor Relations Act Claims
Employers may place reasonable restrictions on an employee’s speech. However, many employers go too far and unlawfully restrict employee speech in violation of their rights under the First Amendment and National Labor Relations Act. Cline and Associates is keenly aware of the ever-changing legal standards that apply to the social media usage laws and policies and is ready to assist employees who have had their free speech rights violated by their employer.
Employment Agreements Including Severance and Separation Agreements
Severance and separation agreements are drafted to be employer-friendly. Review of these Agreements by the Employment Practice Group will ensure that the Agreement is fair and offers the employee as much protection as possible. Cline and Associates will also negotiate these Agreements on your behalf and enter into pre-litigation mediation for issues that cannot be resolved through negotiation. While many of our clients are sophisticated business people, perfectly capable of handling complex issues, having an objective third party review a post-separation employment agreement is a sound business decision and can offer needed protection to the employee and their families.
If you have concerns about wrongdoing in your workplace, seeking the advice of counsel prior to blowing the whistle can safeguard against retaliation you may experience in your effort to expose corporate misconduct. From safety concerns to exposing financial fraud, the Cline and Associates Employment Law Group can assist you in identify areas of corporate misconduct and developing a plan for exposing that misconduct in a way that maximizes the employee’s legal protections. Employees who have been terminated or disciplined can also turn to Cline and Associates for assistance in seeking justice both in and out of courts.
Wage and Pay Disputes
Both Washington State and federal law require employers to pay the minimum wage for all hours worked in a day as well as time-and-a-half overtime pay for hours that exceed forty (40) hours in a week unless the employee is in an excepted category. Cline and Associates represent clients who work for employers who may have misclassified their position to avoid overtime obligations. We also represent employees who have suffered the inability to take required breaks as well as employees who have not received bonuses, commissions, or other who have other claims for unpaid wages.
Unemployment Compensation Claims
Have you been denied unemployment benefits by the Employment Security Department? Do you need assistance appealing your claim? Cline and Associates offers individuals representation during administrative appeals hearings and on appeal to the Commissioner of the Employment Security Department, or to the Superior Court. We also assist individuals who face overpayment issues. We understand that unemployment benefits are a critical source of income while you are unemployed. We are here to help you navigate the unemployment benefits system.
Employment Law Updates
Cline and Associates publishes three different law blogs for its union and employee clients. One of these, the Washington Labor and Employment Blog, is especially supported by the firm’s Employment Law Practice Group and discusses recent legal developments of interest to employees facing discrimination. For the latest in developments check out our blog.