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Captive Audiences Nearly Gone from Washington State

04 Apr

Update Applicable to:Effective date
All employers in Washington StateSee details below

What happened?

On March 8, 2024, the state legislature passed Bill 5778, known as the “Employee Free Choice Act,” which is almost certain to be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee. 

What are the details?

The Bill, if enacted law, would ban employers from firing or taking other adverse action against employees for refusing to attend meetings (in a broad sense, because the bill includes communications) where managers discuss the company’s views on religious or political matters, and to post a state-drafted notice of employee rights provided under the act. 

Employees who claim they were forced to attend a captive audience meeting can file a claim in the state superior court within 90 days of the alleged violation, and if successful, they can be awarded injunctive relief, reinstatement, back pay, and any other benefits the court deems appropriate.

The bill saves face stating that employers can still communicate or mandate meetings that are necessary for the job or duties of their position.

Finally, the bill does not apply to a religious corporation, entity, association, educational institution, or society that is exempt from the requirements.

Business Considerations

  • Conduct an audit of your policies, practices, and procedures to ensure you will be in compliance.
  • Post the required notice in a conspicuous place.
  • Visit the map where Captive Audience Meetings are banned, provided by Bloomberg Law here.


Source References

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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