Karen Sutherland is the Chair of the Employment & Labor practice area and a Member of the firm’s Litigation Department. Her employment law experience includes representing clients on issues such as discrimination and harassment based on age, race, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, religion, and other protected status; ethics and conflicts of interest; theft and fraud; HIPAA violations; failure to follow hiring and promotion processes; retaliation; safety issues; whistleblower complaints; misuse of information, technology assets, trade secrets, and other employer property; hostile work environment; workplace violence and bullying; retaliation; wage and hour laws; employee theft; and property damage by employees.
Karen also drafts employee policies and handbooks; employment contracts and severance packages; noncompetition, nonsolicitation, and nondisclosure agreements; and last chance agreements, collective bargaining agreements, and memorandums of understanding. In addition, Karen advises employers on a wide variety of issues such as hiring processes; employee performance measures and performance improvement plans; employee discipline; developing ADA-compliant job descriptions; FMLA leave; and reasonable accommodation of disabilities; and layoffs.
Karen is a licensed Private Investigator Principal and has conducted over 200 workplace investigations on a wide variety of subjects ranging from harassment and discrimination to theft, workplace bullying, Title IX violations, and alleged falsification of medical and scientific data. Karen also conducts employee and management training on topics such as discrimination, harassment, wage and hour issues, change management, ethics and conflicts of interest, HIPAA, and employee documentation and records management.
In addition, Karen serves as a neutral arbitrator for the King County Superior Court and has served as an Ombudsman and Hearing Examiner. She has also served as an expert witness on matters relating to employment law.
Karen’s litigation experience includes employment law, business disputes, construction law, product liability and other complex litigation.
Karen is a frequent lecturer, author and business advisor on litigation, ethics, discrimination, wrongful termination, noncompete agreements, employment law, and workplace issues. She also authors the monthly King County Bar Association Bar Talk column.
Karen received her B.A. degree in 1980 from the University of Washington and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her J.D. in 1984 from the University of Washington School of Law. When she is not practicing law, Karen works as an artist with a focus on encaustic painting, blown glass and mixed media artwork. Her artwork can be found in several Seattle-area shops and galleries.
- Washington State Bar Association
- King County Bar Association
- Association of Workplace Investigators
- Society for Human Resource Management
- J.D., University of Washington School of Law, 1984
- B.A., University of Washington, 1980
Professional and Community Activities
- King County and Washington State Bar Associations
- Downtown Seattle Association Residents' Council
- Friends of Bell Street Park - Steering Committee
- Educurious - Volunteer
- Highline School District - Community Partner
- Wage & Hour Alert FAQ
- Agency Fees in Lieu of Union Dues
- Documenting Employee Issues
- Resources for Flu Information
- Electronic Verification of the Ability to Work in the U.S.
- Age Discrimination Does Not Require Proof of Intent
- Working With Employees With Disabilities
- Washington State Law Protection For Gay Employees
- Taxation of Employment Settlements
- Supreme Court Clarifies Age Discrimination Law
- Retaliation – What It Is and How To Avoid It
- Religion At Work
- Regular and Overtime Break Periods
- Pregnant Employees and Job Applicants
- Recovering Wage Overpayments
- Paying Employees For Training And Other Activities Outside Their Normal Duties
- Overtime Applies To Retroactive One-Time Payments, Even If The Parties Agree Otherwise
- Mixed Motive Cases — Liability For Discrimination Where There Is A Legitimate Reason For Termination
- Implementing the Washington State Smoking Ban
- How To Calculate FMLA Leave
- HIPAA Privacy Regulations Govern FMLA Certification Procedures For All Employers
- Employment Applications and Resumes
- Employers’ Obligations To Breastfeeding Employees
- Developing Interview Questions
- Defining ‘Pretext’ In Discrimination Cases
- Deductions From Wages
- Classifying Employees Correctly
- Advertising For Employees
- Employees Must Be Paid For Unapproved Overtime
- Family Medical Leave Act Notice Requirements
- Workplace Violence
- When Is An Employee Who Quits Entitled To Lost Wages?
- Wage and Hour Questionnaire
- Investigating Sexual Harassment Claims
- Responding to Subpoenas and Government Investigations of Employees
- The Top Ten Things You Can Do To Prevent Employment Claims
- The Ins and Outs of Comp Time
- Test Your Sexual Harassment IQ
- Supreme Court Clarifies Employers’ Liability for Sexual Harassment
- Should You Have An Arbitration Agreement With Your Employees?
- Recent Cases Change the Face of Worker’s Compensation
- Punitive Damages and Disability Discrimination – A Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous
- Lawyers’ Alert: Sexual Harassment Prevention For Your Workplace
- Preventing Sexual Harassment Claims
- Military Leave
- Key Things You Should Know About Background Checks
- Employment Dispute Settlements And Awards Are Taxable; IRS Withholding Provisions Apply
- Employment Pitfalls: Discrimination in Interviewing and Hiring
- Does Your Management Guide Create An Implied Employment Contract For All of Your Employees?
- Discrimination, Harassment and Wrongful Termination Questionnaire
- Effective Policies Against Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
- Employee Layoffs and Terminations: A How-To Guide
- Do Your Policies Explain How You Calculate FMLA Leave?
- Holiday Parties, Gifts Can Lead to Sexual Harassment Claims
- Gender-Based Harassment Need Not Be Sexual To Be Illegal
- Employment – Related Resources On The Web
- Documenting Employee Discipline And Performance Issues
- Employer Liability for Workplace Incidents
- Dating In the Workplace: Avoiding A Harassment Claim From A Relationship Gone Sour
- Conspicuous Disclaimer In Employee Manual Bars Employee’s Suit
- Are Your Independent Contractors Really Employees?
- After Atlanta, Can It Happen Here? Violence In the Workplace
- An Employer’s Mid-Winter Blues: Investigating Those Post-Holiday Sexual Harassment Claims
- Tips for Effective Documentation of Employee Problems
- The Effect of the Weingarten Decision on Employee Discipline
- Pre-Termination Hearings (Loudermill Hearings)
- How the City of Seattle Antidiscrimination Ordinance Can Affect Your Workplace
- State Court Increases Damages for Harassment and Discrimination Cases
- Lack of Consistency Regarding the Reasons for Termination Can Be Evidence of Discrimination
- Enforcement of Noncompetition Agreements – Dispelling the Myth of Unenforceability
- Limitations on Deductions From Leave Banks For Exempt Employees
- Commission Pay and the Overtime Laws for Non-Sales Employees
- Origins of Employment Law: United States, State and Local Jurisdictions
- Tolerating Your Co-Workers
- A New Twist on Overtime: It Applies to Retroactive One-Time Payments
- Using Sick Leave or FMLA Leave to Care for Family Members: The Gray Areas
- Workplace Halloween Parties Can Be Scary For Reasons You May Not Have Considered
- Ten Minutes At A Time: What Employers Need to Know About Regular and Overtime Break Periods
- Mandatory Overtime: How Hard Can You Work Your Employees?
- Is Harassment Based on Sexual Orientation Illegal?
- Changes to State and Federal Leave Laws
- How To Treat A Pregnant Employee or Job Applicant
- Ask An Expert