I-124 Legal Challenge Decision Delayed

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The judge did not issue any decision March 31 at the summary judgment hearing in King County Superior Court for the legal challenge of Seattle’s Initiative 124.

Judge John Erlick did promise to deliver a written memorandum and possible presentation of his decision by May 26.

Seattle voters passed Initiative 124 on Nov. 8, 2016. The initiative concerns health, safety and labor standards for Seattle hotel employees.

I-124 requires certain-sized hotel-employers to further protect employees against assault, sexual harassment and injury by retaining lists of accused guests among other measures; improve access to health care; limit workloads; and provide limited job security for employees upon hotel ownership transfer. Requirements except assault protections are waivable through collective bargaining. The city may investigate violations. Persons claiming injury are protected from retaliation and may sue hotel-employers. Penalties go to city enforcement, affected employees and the complainant.

Seattle hotels remain devoted to a safe, healthy work environment that respects the rights of both our employees and our guests. Initiative 124 threatens that commitment, impeding the industry’s ability to manage and provide opportunities to its workforce, while violating the rights of our customers.

The Seattle Hotel Association, Washington Hospitality Association and American Hotel & Lodging Association filed a lawsuit in December requesting the court invalidate the ordinance.

It is clear to us Initiative 124 violates state law. One of the provisions, requiring hotels to blacklist guests, forces our industry to choose between protecting our guests or protecting our employees.

Our industry must protect both.

This ordinance violates the rights of our guests and forces our employees to take on a law enforcement role.

We know that working together is a more effective means to address the issues put forth in this initiative. Hoteliers look forward to hearing the judge’s response at the earliest opportunity as we continue our commitment to fostering a safe and vibrant environment in Seattle for our employees and guests.

Questions? Contact Jillian Henze, jillianh@wahospitality.org, 360-956-7279 ext. 124.

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