Articles Posted in Employment Law

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The certified questions in this case centered on whether, the exemption of nonprofit religious organizations from the definition of "employer" under Washington's Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), violates article I, section 11 or article I, section 12 of the Washington Constitution. Larry Ockletree sued his former employer, Franciscan Health System (PHS), challenging the termination of his employment after he had a stroke. Ockletree, who is African-American, claimed that his termination was the result of illegal discrimination on the basis of race and disability. FHS removed the suit to federal court and moved to dismiss Ockletree's claims. FHS argued that it was exempt from WLAD as a nonprofit religious organization. Ockletree challenged the validity of the religious employer exemption under the state and federal constitutions. The district court certified questions to this court asking whether the religious employer exemption violated Washington's article I, section 11 establishment clause or its article I, section 12 privileges and immunities clause. The Washington Supreme Court answered both questions in the negative. View "Ockletree v. Franciscan Health Sys." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on "Loudon v. Mhyre," (756 P.2d 138 (1988)), and whether it applied to a plaintiff's nonparty, treating physician when such physician is employed by a defendant. Specifically, the Court was asked whether Loudon barred ex parte communications between a physician and his or her employer's attorney where the employer is a corporation and named defendant whose corporate attorney-client privilege likely extends to the physician. To protect the values underlying both the physician-patient and the attorney-client privileges, the Supreme Court adopted a modified version of the "Upjohn" test: an attorney hired by a defendant health care provider to investigate or litigate an alleged negligent event may conduct privileged ex parte communications with a plaintiff's nonparty treating physician only where the communication meets the general prerequisites to application of the attorney-client privilege, the communication is with a physician who has direct knowledge of the event or events triggering the litigation, and the communications concern the facts of the alleged negligent incident. The attorney-client privilege protects the privileged communications only - not the facts transmitted in those communications. Facts are proper subjects of investigation and discovery, even if they are also the subject of privileged communications. View "Youngs v. PeaceHealth" on Justia Law