An isolated worker is defined as an employee who works as a: janitor, security guard, hotel or motel housekeeper or room service attendant and spends a majority of their working hours alone without another coworker present.
Employers in these industries must take required precautions to prevent sexual harassment and assault. Under RCW 49.60.515, hotels, motels, retail employers, security guard entities, and property services contractors must:
- Adopt a sexual harassment policy.
- Provide mandatory training to managers, supervisors, and employees to prevent sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination, and educate the workforce about protections for employees who report law violations.
- Provide a list of resources for employees to report harassment and assault.
- Provide a panic button to certain workers.
Policies and Training for Employees, Managers, and Supervisors
The Washington State Human Rights Commission has published guidance to assist organizations with creating sexual assault, sexual harassment, and discrimination policies and procedures as well as training guidance.
Employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee for exercising other protected rights under the law.
At a minimum, employers impacted by this law must provide employees with contact information for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Washington State Human Rights Commission, and local advocacy groups focused on preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault.
A panic button is an “emergency contact device” designed to be carried by the user and to summon immediate on-scene assistance from a security guard, coworker, or other employer-designated personnel.
L&I has developed and published guidance for employers relating to the panic button requirement.
Additional Requirements for Property Services Contractors
A property services contractors are janitorial entities. RCW 49.60.515 defines “property services contractor” as any person or entity that employs workers to provide commercial janitorial services for another person, or on behalf of an employer to provide janitorial services.
In addition to the requirements listed above, property services contractors are also required to submit the following information to L&I:
- The date their sexual harassment policy was adopted.
- The number of managers, supervisors, and employees trained on the policy.
- The physical address of the work location or locations at which janitorial services are provided by workers of the property services contractor and for each location:
- The total number of workers or contractors of the property services contractor who perform janitorial services.
- The total hours worked.
Property services contractors are able to submit this information through the My L&I portal each quarter.
L&I has written a step-by-step Isolated Worker Protections reporting guide on how to use the online application for reporting the information required by the law.
Assistance For Employers
- Request an Individual Presentation: L&I provides free webinars to individual organizations. To schedule a webinar, send your request email at Tiffany.Lowry@lni.wa.gov and put “Isolated Worker Webinar” in the subject line.
- Register to Attend a Public Webinar: You can register for an Isolated Worker public webinar at L&I’s calendar of workshops, events and webinars. Look for “Isolated Worker Protections (Webinar)” in the “Event Title” pull-down menu.
- Request Isolated Worker Employer Consultation: L&I also offers free customized consultations to help employers understand the impact RCW 49.60.515 may have on their organization, identify possible risks, and provide proactive recommendations for future compliance. To request a consultation, please contact Tiffany.Lowry@lni.wa.gov.
- The fact sheet provides details on the purpose of an isolated worker employer consultation as well as the benefits to employers and what L&I will provide during a consultation.
Employees can submit a concern with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). The concern process entails a comprehensive review of an employee’s job and what protections they may be required to receive.
Submitting a concern with L&I provides employees with an educational opportunity to learn about rights they may be afforded. Submitting a concern through this process does not constitute submitting a formal safety and health complaint or any other formal complaint.
- U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Washington State Human Rights Commission
- RCW 49.60.515: Read the chapter of the Revised Code of Washington related to isolated worker protections
- Chapter 18.170: Read the chapter of the Revised Code of Washington related to licensed security guards.
- Isolated Worker Reporting Guide
- Q&A - Panic Buttons: Guidance for Employers in the Hospitality Industry