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Public Records Act Basics for Members of the Public

Do you need some documents from a local government in Washington State and don’t know how to get them? While some documents are available online, many documents agencies use or rely on are not readily accessible. The Public Records Act allows you to access records used or held by Washington governmental agencies.

What is the Public Records Act?

You may have heard of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which applies to the federal government. The Public Records Act, or PRA, is Washington’s answer to… Continue reading

Is a Person’s Immigration Status Admissible as Evidence in Washington?

Not anymore, thanks to Evidence Rule 413 adopted by the Washington Supreme Court that took effect on September 1, 2018. The new rule limits when and how a person’s immigration status can be used as evidence.

According to the proposal for the rule, there were several purposes for limiting the admissibility of a person’s immigration status. Immigrants make up a larger share of the population than they have in the past, and providing them with access to the courts and a fair trial is essential… Continue reading

Employee Access to Personnel Files

Personnel files, also known as employee files, are business records that may include records related to an employee’s job performance, salary, and other employment matters. From time to time, an employer may receive a request from current or former employee to review their personnel file.

Employers are required to permit current and former employees to inspect their own personnel file at least annually, but an employer may refuse to permit access to certain records. For instance, employers are not required to allow employees access to… Continue reading

Standing: Can anyone file a lawsuit?

Recently, the Washington Court of Appeals dismissed a case filed by a lot owner on behalf of a homeowners’ association because the person lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The owner was claiming impact on or damage to a retention pond by a neighboring developer. But the court found the individual lot owner within a homeowner’s association (HOA) does not have standing to bring a claim that belonged to the HOA. Specifically, the owner was not a member of the HOA at the time of… Continue reading

Can I Cut my Neighbor’s Trees?

Trees are beautiful and provide many benefits. Who doesn’t like trees? But trees are also a common subject of disputes between neighbors. Complaints can range from trees blocking views or sunshine, trees being too tall and in danger of falling, or trees growing over property lines.

When someone doesn’t like a neighbor’s tree, the first question they have is can they cut it down.

The general answer is obvious. No, you cannot go onto your neighbor’s property and cut their trees. But there are some… Continue reading

New Residential Rental Ordinance in Bellingham

This is an update to the blog published on January 3, 2018.

Bellingham now has new municipal code provisions changing the obligations of landlords who rent to residential tenants. If you rent or own a rental property in the Bellingham city limits, you need to be aware of these changes.

Source of Income Discrimination

First, new Chapter 6.11 of the Bellingham Municipal Code (or “BMC”), prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to a tenant based on that tenant’s source of income. “Source of income” includes… Continue reading

Paid Family Medical Leave coming to Washington

Paid sick leave and paid family medical leave are two recent, big developments in Washington employment law. (Read more about paid sick leave here ) On January 1, 2019, premium assessments will begin for the new Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) system managed by Employment Security Department (ESD). The family leave portion will be funded by employees (via payroll deductions) unless an employer elects to pay some or all these premiums. The medical leave portion will be funded by employees and employers.

Benefits will be… Continue reading

New Paid Sick Leave

On January 1, 2018, Washington’s paid sick leave law went into effect. The paid sick leave law requires employers to notify, in written or electronic form, each employee of:

●     Their entitlement to paid sick leave;

●     The rate at which the employee will accrue paid sick leave;

●     The authorized purposes for which paid sick leave may be used; and

●     That retaliation by the employer for the… Continue reading

New Regulations May Be Coming to Rentals in Bellingham

The Bellingham City Council is currently considering amending Bellingham’s landlord-tenant code to offer greater protections to residential tenants. It held a public hearing on December 4, 2017, and further considered these proposed amendments on December 11, 2017. The proposed amendments are in response to Bellingham’s extremely low rental vacancy rate and rising rents, which appear to be pushing some tenants out of the local housing market.

Three main changes are proposed. First, discrimination based on source of income will be prohibited. This means that a… Continue reading

Esther Hyun Joins Carmichael Clark, P.S.


Esther Hyun has joined Carmichael Clark, as an associate attorney.  Esther practices in the areas of business, creditor-debtor, and real estate law.

Originally from Seattle, Esther received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Washington State University, and graduated from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, CA in 2013.  Esther initially practiced in San Diego, and then more recently with a law firm in Bellevue, WA.

Esther is active in the legal community both nationally and… Continue reading

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