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Washington Unjustified Searches of Employees’ Personal Vehicles Prohibited – Compliance Reminder

As of July 23, 2023, employers in Washington are prohibited from searching employees’ privately owned vehicles (even when on or near the employers’ premises) unless at least one of the eight exceptions in the law applies. The exceptions are when:

  • The employer owns or leases the vehicle.
  • It’s a lawful search by a law enforcement officer.
  • The employee uses the vehicle for work-related activities and the employer needs to inspect it to ensure that it’s suitable for those activities. (This looks like an easy excuse for inspection in many cases, but employers should only use this—or any reason—in good faith.)
  • A reasonable person would believe that accessing the vehicle is necessary to prevent immediate threat to human health, life, or safety.
  • An employee consents to the search based on probable cause that they unlawfully possess the employer’s property or a controlled substance in violation of federal law and the employer’s written policy on drug use. This type of search can only be done by the business owner, owner’s agent, or a licensed private security guard. The employer cannot make consent to the search a condition of employment.
  • It’s a security inspection of vehicles on a state or federal military installation or facility.
  • The vehicle is on the premises of a state correctional institution.
  • The vehicle is in a specific employer area subject to search under state or federal law.


Additionally, employees must be allowed to keep their personal belongings in their vehicle, as long as they’re legal to possess. As is the case with most laws that provide employee protections, employers can’t take adverse action against an employee who exercises their rights under the law.


Washington Tukwila Fair Scheduling – Compliance Reminder

Last November, the voters of Tukwila approved a ballot initiative to create a fair scheduling rule, applicable to employers with 15 or more employees. The changes described are effective July 1, 2023.

Extra Hours Must Be Offered to Current Employees

Before hiring any additional employees or subcontractors (including through staffing agencies or temporary services), large and midsize employers must offer additional hours of work to current nonexempt employees who usually work less than 35 hours per week and who have the appropriate skills and experience. Employers are not required to offer hours internally if it would generate overtime.


Action Items

In addition to implementing the new minimum wages, affected employers need to distribute the Tukwila Labor Standards Notice to employees by June 30, 2023, and post it in the workplace.  Employers should also ensure that those who are responsible for scheduling and hiring fully understand the new rules about offering additional hours to current employees.


Employers who have fewer than 15 workers worldwide and earn $2 million or less in annual gross revenue in Tukwila and are not associated with a franchisor or network of franchisees employing over 500 workers are not affected but may still be subject to State minimum wage and other laws.


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