Mayor Durkan Commends Introduction of Hotel Worker Legislation to Create Critical Protections for Employees

Seattle (June 27, 2019) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan applauded the introduction of legislation to protect Seattle’s hotel workers from harassment and discrimination while also setting new rules on workload, worker retention, and health care benefits. Following the state Court of Appeals decision regarding the 2016 Initiative, Mayor Durkan and a number of City departments have been working with City councilmembers, workers, labor, small businesses, the industry, and other stakeholders on a series of bills that would comply with state law and provide needed protections.   

“Seattle will continue to lead the way by protecting and creating opportunity for all workers in our community. With their overwhelming support for Initiative 124, voters said clearly that they want Seattle to ensure fair treatment in the workplace. These bills are critical to protecting hotel employees from injuries and harassment, providing health care, and creating basic protections. I commend the advocacy of UNITE HERE Local 8 and the leadership of Councilmember Mosqueda and Councilmember González to provide these important protections for the health and safety of employees working at hotels in Seattle,” said Mayor Durkan. “Working together, our goal was to ensure that workers could get needed protections and health care as quickly as possible, instead of creating additional legal challenges that will delay or deny these benefits. Seattle workers deserve these protections now – not continued legal challenges. At present, this legislation contains language regarding the creation of an exclusion list that is contrary to Seattle’s values and that would leave the City highly vulnerable to charges that it has failed to protect due process rights, among other unconstitutional actions. While I share the ACLU’s concerns with this unconstitutional provision and also share the Seattle Office for Civil Rights’ concerns about the unintended impacts on vulnerable populations, I’m hopeful we can work together in the coming weeks to resolve outstanding issues with the legislation.”    

Following the City of Seattle’s appeal, the City’s Office of Labor Standards has continued to receive complaints related to the Initiative but has not investigated or otherwise taken affirmative action on these complaints pending the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.