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Monday, March 18, 2019

FREE Legal Forms: AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA


   
by Gregory Williams, Esq. |  What are some free resources for reliable and trusted legal forms in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State ? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding). 

OREGON & WASHINGTON

We recently upgraded our FREE Oregon Legal Forms and FREE Washington State Legal Forms websites. These community resources were designed and developed by Attorney Gregory Williams, and he is the webmaster. Each website provides access to trusted legal forms and offers reliability reviews for your reference. Free forms are categorized and include, but are not limited to, the following subjects:
  • Bankruptcy
  • Divorce 
  • Child Support
  • Family Law
  • Parenting Plans
  • Power of Attorney
  • Wills & Health Care Directives 
  • and much more...

ALASKA, ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, HAWAII, & IDAHO

We've received an overwhelming response to our FREE Legal Forms websites, and we're in the process of upgrading the following states by (1) adding security certificates, (2) making them mobile friendly, and (3) migrating them to a safer and more reliable hosting provider. In the meantime, these websites will be down. Please check back soon!


 
   


PLEASE NOTE

The information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.

WA State Torts: Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy

by Gregory Williams, Esq. | Under Washington State laws, what is the tort of Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public PolicyHere's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).


WRONGFUL TERMINATION

Washington has been an “at-will” employment state since at least 1928. See Ford v. Trendwest Resorts, Inc., 146 Wn.2d 146, 152, 43 P.3d 1223 (Wash. 2002) (referencing Davidson v. Mackall-Paine Veneer Co., 149 Wash. 685, 688, 271 P. 878 (1928); see also Prescott v. Puget Sound Bridge & Dredging Co., 40 Wash. 354, 357, 82 P. 606 (1905) (Mount, C.J., dissenting) (“where [an employment] contract is general and for an indefinite time, it is terminable at will.”)). According to this doctrine, an employer can discharge an at-will employee for no cause, good cause or even cause morally wrong without fear of liability. See Id., 43 P.3d 1223 (citing Thompson v. St. Regis Paper Co., 102 Wash.2d 219, 226, 685 P.2d 1081 (1984)) (internal quotations omitted). Conversely, an employee has the absolute right to quit his or her employment at-will. See id., 43 P.3d 1223.

However, there are three recognized exceptions to that general at-will employment rule: (1) The Statutory Exception; (2) The Judicial Exception and; (3) The Contractual Exception. This article will address the Judicial Exception.


THE JUDICIAL EXCEPTION: WRONGFUL TERMINATION IN VIOLATION OF PUBLIC POLICY


Washington courts have recognized a narrow public policy exception to an employer’s right to discharge an employee; this exception is commonly known as “wrongful termination in violation of public policy.” Id., 43 P.3d 1223 (referencing Smith v. Bates Technical Coll., 139 Wash.2d 793, 991 P.2d 1135 (2000) (public policy exception to “for-cause” employees); Gardner v. Loomis Armored, Inc., 128 Wash.2d 931, 913 P.2d 377 (1996) (discharge of armored truck driver who abandoned post to prevent murder violated public policy)). Under this exception, an employer does not have the right to discharge an employee when the termination would frustrate a clear manifestation of public policy. Id., 43 P.3d 1223. By recognizing this public policy exception, Washington State Supreme Court has expressed its unwillingness to shield an employer’s action which otherwise frustrates a clear manifestation of public policy. See id. at 154, 43 P.3d 1223.

This legal theory is known as a tort. A tort is a civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which remedies may be obtained. In Washington State, there are typically two ways to prove the tort of wrongful termination in violation of public policy: (1) via the Four-Scenarios Framework; and (2) via the Perritt Framework.


THE FOUR-SCENARIOS FRAMEWORK

"In Thompson v. St. Regis Paper Co., ... [the Washington State Supreme Court] adopted the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy as a narrow exception to the at-will doctrine." Martin v. Gonzaga University, 425 P.3d 837, 842-43, 191 Wn.2d 712 (Wash. 2018) (citing Thompson, 102 Wn.2d 219, 232-33, 685 P.2d 1081 (1984)). "[This tort] has generally been limited to four scenarios:

[1] where employees are fired for refusing to commit an illegal act;
[2] where employees are fired for performing a public duty or obligation, such as serving jury duty;
[3] where employees are fired for exercising a legal right or privilege, such as filing workers' compensation claims; and
[4] where employees are fired in retaliation for reporting employer misconduct, i.e., whistle-blowing."

Id., 191 Wn.2d 712 (citing Gardner v. Loomis Armored, Inc., 128 Wn.2d 931, 936, 913 P.2d 377 (1996)) (internal citations and quotations marks omitted). "The elements of wrongful termination in violation of public policy were set forth in Thompson and refined in Wilmot [v. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp., 118 Wn.2d 46, 821 P.2d 18 (1991),]" as follows[:]

[1] First, ... [the plaintiff] has the burden to show that his discharge may have been motivated by reasons that contravene a clear mandate of public policy ... [;]
[2] Second[,] ... [t]he plaintiff [is required] to show that the public-policy-linked conduct was a significant factor in the decision to discharge the worker[:]
[a] [t]he plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case by producing evidence that the public-policy-linked conduct was a cause of the firing, and may do so by circumstantial evidence[;]
[b] [i]f the plaintiff succeeds in presenting a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate nonpretextual nonretaliatory reason for the discharge ... [;]
[c] [i]f the employer articulates such a reason, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff either to show that the reason is pretextual, or by showing that although the employer's stated reason is legitimate, the [public-policy-linked conduct] was nevertheless a substantial factor motivating the employer to discharge the worker."
Martin, 425 P.3d at 843, 191 Wn.2d 712 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).


THE PERRITT FRAMEWORK

"In Gardner, ... [the Washington State Supreme Court] adopted a four-part framework based on a treatise written by Henry Perritt to resolve a wrongful discharge suit that did not fit neatly into one of those four recognized ... [scenarios]." Id., 191 Wn.2d 712 (citing Gardner, 128 Wn.2d at 941, 913 P.2d 377 (citing HENRY H. PERRITT JR., WORKPLACE TORTS: RIGHTS AND LIABILITIES (1991))) (emphasis added). "The Perritt test has four factors: 

(1) The plaintiffs must prove the existence of a clear public policy (the clarity element).
(2) The plaintiffs must prove that discouraging the conduct in which they engaged would jeopardize the public policy (the jeopardy element).
(3) The plaintiffs must prove that the public-policy-linked conduct caused the dismissal (the causation element).
(4) The defendant must not be able to offer an overriding justification for the dismissal (the absence of justification element)." 

Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).


THE BECKER-ROSE RULE

"[I]n Becker and Rose, [the Washington State Supreme Court] ... clarified that the Perritt [F]ramework should not be applied to a claim that falls within ... [the Four-Scenarios Framework] of wrongful discharge in violation of a public policy." Id., 191 Wn.2d 712 (citing Becker v. Cmty. Health Sys., Inc., 184 Wn.2d 252, 258-59, 359 P.3d 746 (2015) ("When the plaintiffs case does not fit neatly within one of these scenarios, a more refined analysis may be necessary, and the four-factor Perritt analysis may provide helpful guidance. But such detailed analysis is unnecessary here." (footnote and citation omitted)); Rose v. Anderson Hay & Grain Co., 184 Wn.2d 268, 277-78, 287, 358 P.3d 1139 (2015) ("We note that in other instances, when the facts do not fit neatly into one of the four above-described categories, a more refined analysis may be necessary. In those circumstances, the courts should look to the four-part Perritt framework for guidance. But that guidance is unnecessary here.")).


LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Employment Discrimination Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.

Monday, March 11, 2019

WA State Torts: Public Disclosure of Public Facts

by Gregory Williams, Esq. | Under Washington State laws, what is the tort of "public disclosure of private facts"Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).


PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF PRIVATE FACTS

"Washington recognizes a common law right to privacy." White v. Township of Winthrop, 128 Wn.App. 588, 593-94, 116 P.3d 1034, (Div. 3 2005) (citing Reid v. Pierce County, 136 Wash.2d 195, 207, 961 P.2d 333 (1998)). A violation of this right is considered a tort. A tort is a civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which remedies may be obtained.

"Public Disclosure of Private Facts" is a privacy tort in Washington State. Washington courts "base actions for ... [commission of this tort] as articulated in RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 652D (1977):

'One who gives publicity to a matter concerning the private life of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the matter publicized is of a kind that
(a) would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and
(b) is not of legitimate concern to the public.'

White, 128 Wn.App at 593-94 (citing Reid, 136 Wash.2d at 205, 961 P.2d 333) (internal citations omitted).


EXAMPLES

"As concerns the general nature of matters protected by the right of privacy:

'Every individual has some phases of his life and his activities and some facts about himself that he does not expose to the public eye, but keeps entirely to himself or at most reveals only to his family or to close personal friends. Sexual relations, for example, are normally entirely private matters, as are family quarrels, many unpleasant or disgraceful or humiliating illnesses, most intimate personal letters, most details of a man's life in his home, and some of his past history that he would rather forget. When these intimate details of his life are spread [b]efore the public gaze in a manner highly offensive to the ordinary reasonable man, there is an actionable invasion of his privacy, unless the matter is one of legitimate public interest.'"

White, 128 Wn.App. at 594 (citing Cowles Publ'g Co. v. State Patrol, 109 Wash.2d 712, 721, 748 P.2d 597 (1988)) (internal citations omitted).


LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.

Monday, March 4, 2019

WA State Torts: Defamation

by Gregory Williams, Esq. | Under Washington State laws, what is the tort of defamationHere's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).


DEFAMATION

Defamation is a tort in Washington State. A tort is a civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which remedies may be obtained. To succeed on a claim of defamation, a plaintiff must typically prove the following four elements:
  1. false and defamatory language on the part of the defendant;
  2. an unprivileged communication of the defamatory language by the defendant to a third person; 
  3. fault on the defendant's part; and
  4. damages.
See Robel v. Roundup Corporation, 148 Wn.2d 35, 55 (Wash. 2002).


THE THRESHOLD QUESTION

However, "before the truth or falsity of an allegedly defamatory statement can be assessed, a plaintiff must prove that the words constituted a statement of fact, not an opinion." Id. The issue of "[w]hether the allegedly defamatory words were intended as a statement of fact or an expression of opinion is a threshold question of law for the court." Id. (internal citations omitted).


THE DUNLAP 3-FACTOR TEST

In order to determine whether words "should ... be viewed as nonactionable opinions, ... [the courts] consider the 'totality of the circumstances' surrounding those statements: 'To determine whether a statement is nonactionable, a court should consider at least (1) the medium and context in which the statement was published, (2) the audience to whom it was published, and (3) whether the statement implies undisclosed facts. Id. at 56 (citing Dunlap v. Wayne, 105 Wash. 2d 529, 539, 716 P.2d 842 (1986) (regarding as a nonactionable opinion, not a statement of fact, opposing counsel's statement to plaintiff's employer that plaintiff had been soliciting a kickback).


LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.