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Washington State Prohibits Mandatory Religious and Political Meetings

Washington State has enacted the Employee Free Choice Act, which protects employees’ right to refuse to attend employer meetings or listen to (or view) employer communications because the meetings or communications involve political or religious matters. The Act becomes effective on June 6, 2024.

The Employee Free Choice Act makes Washington the sixth state to prohibit employers from disciplining or firing employees who refuse to attend “captive audience” meetings. The Act defines political matters as “relating to elections for political office, political parties, proposals to change legislation, and the decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal, or labor association or organization.”  Religious matters are defined as “relating to religious affiliation and practice, and the decision to join or support any religious organization or association.”

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The law also does not change the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and federal court precedent allowing an employer to require employees to attend speeches about unionization on the employer’s premises during work hours provided the speech is not coercive.  In addition, the law does not prohibit an employer from:

  • communicating to its employees any information the employer is required by law to communicate.
  • offering meetings, forums, or other communications about religious or political matters for which attendance or participation is strictly voluntary.
  • requiring its employees to attend any training intended to reduce and prevent workplace harassment or discrimination.