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Bellingham Lawyers for Employment Matters

Bellingham is a coastal city located in Washington State by the border of Canada and the county seat of Whatcom County. The largest employers in Bellingham include PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, Lummi Nation, BP refinery, Bellingham Public Schools, Whatcom County, Western Washington University, Fred Meyer, Zodiac Aerospace, Haggen, and the city itself. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against or harassed based on a protected characteristic or paid an improper wage, you should give the experienced Bellingham employment law attorneys of Walton Law a call. Chris Walton is an award-winning trial lawyer who is dedicated to helping those who have been harmed.

Employment Law

Both federal and state laws govern employers’ conduct within the state of Washington. The state of Washington specifies minimum wage, overtime, and payday requirements. It also sets questions of labor union membership and right to organize, as well as minimum wage and overtime, worked beyond 40 hours in a week from the state.

In Washington, the minimum wage is currently $14.99 each hour. Additionally, most hourly workers who work more than 40 hours in a 7-day workweek should be paid overtime. With overtime, the employer needs to pay at least 1 ½ times a worker’s regular hourly rate. Certain workers whose jobs fit in one of four exemption categories to overtime law are not protected by federal and state overtime rules. If you were not paid minimum wage or overtime as an hourly worker, and you are not exempted, our employment law attorneys based in Bellingham may be able to bring a claim on your behalf.

The four exempted categories have complex criteria, but are, roughly, executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales. In most cases, you are regarded as having an executive position, for example, if your full-time responsibility is managing two or more employees, and don’t spend more than 20% of your time doing other activities.


Unfair and discriminatory practices in employment are prohibited under certain federal laws, along with RCW Chapter 49.60. Discrimination occurs in the workplace when an employer refuses to hire a worker, terminates a worker, or otherwise treats a worker adversely in compensation or other terms or conditions of employment due to a protected characteristic. Discrimination can also occur when a job ad or publication or application form includes discriminatory statements or makes any inquiry with regard to prospective employment that’s discriminatory.

Under state law, protected characteristics include creed, race, color, sex, marital status, age if you are 40 or older, disability, retaliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, status as an honorably discharged veteran, or use of a trained dog guide or service animal by someone with a disability. For example, if you were fired because you came out as gay at an office party, our Bellingham employment law attorneys may be able to pursue a claim for discrimination on your behalf under Washington law. For another example, if you have a disability and need a service dog at your interview, but are not hired for that reason, you may have a claim.

Additionally, you should not be subject to unfair employment practices due to your opposition to a discriminatory practice.

To recover damages on your behalf, our lawyers will need to be able to demonstrate a prima facie discrimination case. However, your employer or prospective employer will have an opportunity to try to show that there were nondiscriminatory reasons for the adverse employment action, such as poor job performance. We would then need to provide evidence to connect what happened to you to your membership in a protected class and establish by a preponderance of the evidence that you were discriminated against.

Consult an Experienced Employment Law Attorney

You need a results-oriented employment lawyer serving Bellingham to fight for your best interests after being harmed by your employer. Chris Walton has the highest possible rating (AV Preeminent) given by Martindale-Hubbell. At Walton Law, we tailor our representation to ensure thoughtful, personalized service to each and every worker we represent. We understand you might not be able to meet with us during normal business hours, so we offer both evening and weekend appointments. Call our seasoned Washington lawyers at (866) 338-7079 or online to schedule a free consultation.