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Triple pay on Thanksgiving Day

    September 11, 2015

    In recent years, there has been increased debate on whether retail and service businesses should open on Thanksgiving Day.  Some argue businesses should not open to protect the holiday tradition.  Others claim consumer demand should dictate if a business opens or closes on Thanksgiving.

    Pending Washington State House Bill 1694 addresses this issue.  The Bill proposes businesses be allowed to open on Thanksgiving, provided employees have the option of working the Holiday.  Under the proposed law, an employee may chose to work the Holiday or not, and employers are prohibited from taking any adverse employment action against an employee electing not to work.    The Bill also requires employers pay employees working on Thanksgiving at least three times the employee’s regular hours wages.  

    House Bill 1694 reads, in material part, as follows:

    … a retail or service establishment employer shall pay each of its retail or service employees for hours the employee works on Thanksgiving day wages at a rate of three times the amount of the employee’s hourly rate. If the hours worked on Thanksgiving day are hours that the employer would be required to pay overtime under RCW 49.46.130, the wage rate under this subsection shall be the wage rate used for the hours the employee works on Thanksgiving day …  A retail or service establishment employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer may not adversely affect the employment status, wages, hours, or employment conditions of a retail or service employee for the employee’s refusal to work on Thanksgiving day.

    While House Bill 1694 is presently in Committee and there is no indication the Bill will become law, as long as businesses elect to open on Thanksgiving, public debate will likely continue.  Employers are likely to feel political and internal pressure to increase the compensation of employees who work on the Holiday. 

    Brian A. Walker helps businesses and individuals in employment, business, and real estate related litigation and transactions from the Wenatchee office of Ogden Murphy Wallace PLLC. You can reach Brian at or at (509) 663-1954.