Retailers: pay attention to new isolated workers protection requirements

Mar 18, 2021
Written by Rose Gundersen, VP of Operations & Retail Services

The state requires retailers to comply with the new “Isolated Workers Protection” requirements to prevent sexual harassment or assaults on workers who work alone or mostly alone for a long period of time or overnight. Even if a business contracts with a vendor for janitorial or security guard services, joint-employer liability may hold depending on the facts of each case.

Under RCW 49.60.515, hotels, motels, retail employers, security guard entities, and property services contractors must:

  • Adopt a sexual harassment policy
  • Train managers, supervisors and employees to prevent sexual harassment, assault and discrimination. Employers also must educate their workforce about protections for employees who report law violations.
  • Provide a list of resources for employees to report harassment and assault
  • Provide a panic button to these “isolated workers”
  • Report requirements for property service contractors (when workers are sent to provide commercial janitorial services for another person or business)

At a minimum, employers impacted by this law must provide employees with contact information for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Washington State Human Rights Commission, and local advocacy groups focused on preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has developed and published guidance for employers relating to the panic button requirement.

If you’re interested in attending a webinar or have a compliance question, please contact Rose Gundersen at [email protected].