Law Office of Scott G. Thomas

Labor and Employment

Scott Thomas helps his clients negotiate the ever-changing landscape of federal and state laws that govern the workplace. I get to know you, and assist in devising solutions to employment problems that affect employers and employees.  No other attorney in Skagit County has as much experience in dealing with virtually every type of labor and employment issue that confronts businesses and employees. Whether you are an emerging or established business, an employee,  or an independent contractor, I can assist you with a full range of labor and employment law issues.

Drug Use in the Workplace


Medical and recreational marijuana laws in the state of Washington, coupled with federal drug-free workplace regulations, have resulted in a complex regulatory environment that confuses employers and employees alike. I can offer assistance in sorting out not only legal requirements, but also the development of policy that is in the best interests of all.



Employees that have been injured or have a disability are protected at work by the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and Washington’s Law Against Discrimination. These laws are very robust and give a wide range of protections. The ADA is a federal law, and claims may be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Washington’s law allows claims to be filed with the Washington State Human Rights Commission. I am able to help employees and employers alike sort out their obligations under these laws.




Employment discrimination is a form of discrimination based on the race, sex, sexual identity, religion, national origin, physical disability, or age by an employer. The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. I am able to help employers avoid taking actions that could be construed to be discriminatory. If an allegation of discrimination has been made by an employee, I am able to conduct an independent investigation to identify any allegedly discriminatory actions. For employees, I may be able to help when an employer takes an improper adverse action against you (discipline, pass over for promotion, or termination).


Age. Age Discrimination is defined by law as any negative employment action that takes place against an employee or prospective employee who is 40 years or older. Just like other forms of discrimination, if age is utilized to limit an employee or prospective employee a claim may be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the state Human Rights Commission, which will investigate claims.   I am able to assist employees file a claim, and take other appropriate steps to redress discriminatory action. For employers, I am able to assist by defending against such claims.


Sex or Gender Discrimination. In Washington, an employer may not terminate or otherwise take an adverse job action against an employee because of the sex of the employee. An employer’s policies and employment rules must be applied equally to all employees. Policies and employment rules which disproportionately and adversely impact one sex are prohibited under both Washington and Federal law. I am able to assist employers and employees in resolving allegations of sex discrimination.


Marital Status. It is a violation of law to discriminate against an employee based on their marital status. Discrimination frequently takes the form of treating unmarried adults who cohabitate differently than adults who are married. I am able to assist employers and employees in resolving marital discrimination complaints.


Military Status. It is a violation of the law to discriminate against someone because of their military status. Additionally, employees can not be terminated as a result of being called up for military duty. Some employers refuse to hire veterans or people in the military because they fear that employees in the military will need to take time off work to fulfill their military obligation.   I can assist employers in drafting and implementing policies that comply with the law. For employees, I am able to assist you in gaining employer acceptance of their obligations under the law.


National Origin. National origin discrimination occurs when an employee is treated different based on ethnicity or accent. Additionally, employers must take appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful harassment based on the national origin of an employee or the perceived national origin.


Pregnancy Discrimination. An employer must provide a woman an unpaid leave of absence for the period of time that she is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy or childbirth. Employers must treat a woman on pregnancy related leave the same as other employees on leave for sickness or other temporary disabilities. Employers that allow no leave for sickness or disability may not refuse reasonable leave to a woman who is pregnant, unless the policy is justified by a business necessity


The Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") adds additional protections to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Under the FMLA, pregnant employees who meet certain conditions are entitled to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave during a twelve month period for childbirth, adoption, serious health conditions or to care for a sick child or family member. I am able to assist employers in drafting and implementing policies that address pregnancy in the workplace. I may also able to assist employees who have experienced improper actions taken by an employer due to the employee’s pregnancy.


Racial Discrimination. An employer may not terminate an employee or take other adverse job action because of race. This is also true of a prospective employee. Work rules must be applied uniformly to all employees, regardless of race. Policies that have a disproportionately adverse impact on minorities are strictly prohibited.


Religious Discrimination. It is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to treat employees or applicants different because of their religious beliefs. An employer may not force an employee to practice a particular religion or engage in activities of a religion. Also, an employer must make a reasonable accommodation based on the religion of an employee. I am able to assist employers in assessing religious issues, and drafting and implementing policies that avoid religious discrimination allegations. I am also able to assist employees who have experienced improper actions taken by an employer due to the employee’s religious beliefs.


Sexual Orientation. Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently or harassed because of the employee’s real or perceived sexual orientation. This orientation may be because the employee is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual. Sexual orientation discrimination is illegal in the workplace in Washington. I am able to assist employers in adopting practices and procedures that comply with the law. I am also able to assist employees who have been victimized by improper actions taken by an employer.


Retaliation / Whistle-blower


Employment laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who engage in activities protected by those laws, such as making a complaint or participating as a witness in an investigation. It is human nature for a supervisor or fellow employee who is the subject of a complaint to have hurt feelings, or to feel that the employee who filed the complaint is disloyal or causing trouble for everyone. When the supervisor or employee acts on those feelings, that individual may engage in retaliatory action. Employers must investigate a charge of retaliation, and document the investigation, its findings, and any disciplinary action that resulted. I may be able to help when an employee raises a legitimate concern or complaint and then receives some adverse action from the employer. For employers, I may be able to help you and your employees avoid taking an action that could be construed as being retaliatory.


Sexual Harassment


Sexual harassment are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to such conduct is made a condition of an individual's employment, or submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions, or the conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Sexual Harassment can range from offensive language and jokes to physical touching or sexual favor requirements for job advancement or retention. I may be able to help when an employer allows sexually-related conduct that interferes with the employee’s job. For employers, I may be able to assist you and your employees in avoiding inappropriate behavior.


Wrongful Termination


While an employer generally has the right to fire an employee for any reason they see fit, there are certain exceptions to this general rule that result in a wrongful discharge. These exceptions include an employer violating a public policy by terminating an employee; discharging an employee for the employee’s exercise of their legal rights; and an employer’s termination of an employee based on the employee’s refusal to commit illegal acts. I am able to evaluate an employer’s action and determine if an actual or proposed termination is problematic.


Employment Security Appeals


If an employee is denied benefits following separation from employment, the employee may request a hearing to review the denial. Following that hearing determination, there is an appeal process to further seek or secure unemployment benefits. I may be able to help you navigate the hearing process.


Employment Contract Issues


As an experienced Washington employment attorney, I assist employees with review or drafting employee contracts and I represent employees with breach of contract disputes involving non-compete agreements and other employment agreements.