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.
Since the novel coronavirus pandemic began, Karen has devoted a substantial amount of time developing resources and giving advice on COVID-19 issues such as: unemployment benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; paid time off under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA); reopening workplaces under the Washington State Safe Starts Plan; coronavirus safety and health issues; drafting COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation, and recovery plans; quarantine, contact tracing and reporting; EEOC compliance; and guidance on layoffs and recalls. She has also co-presented webinars on Reducing Lability for COVID-19 Exposure and Reopening the Workplace Post-COVID.
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
- Association for Talent Development
- 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
New Legislation Limits NoncompetesKaren Sutherland05/17/2019Business Employment and Labor
The EEOC’s Sexual Harassment Prevention EffortsKaren Sutherland05/01/2019Employment and Labor
Agency Fees in Lieu of Union DuesKaren Sutherland08/11/2014Municipal Case Reports
Electronic Verification of the Ability to Work in the U.S.Karen Sutherland01/21/2009Employment and Labor
Age Discrimination Does Not Require Proof of IntentKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Working With Employees With DisabilitiesKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Washington State Law Protection For Gay EmployeesKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Taxation of Employment SettlementsKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Supreme Court Clarifies Age Discrimination LawKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Retaliation – What It Is and How To Avoid ItKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Religion At WorkKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Regular and Overtime Break PeriodsKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Pregnant Employees and Job ApplicantsKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Recovering Wage OverpaymentsKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Paying Employees For Training And Other Activities Outside Their Normal DutiesKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor
Overtime Applies To Retroactive One-Time Payments, Even If The Parties Agree OtherwiseKaren Sutherland11/17/2006Employment and Labor