City of Seattle "Temporary" Employee Case

Glaser v City of Seattle

The Glaser plaintiffs, Larry Glaser, John Taylor, Scott Roberts, and Kenneth Williams, brought a class-action lawsuit against the City of Seattle for a class of City employees called “temporary” employees. These employees were actually long-term employees and who worked more than half-time on an ongoing basis. The plaintiffs worked as “temporary” employees, full-time or nearly full-time, for two to eight years for the City of Seattle. Because they were called “temporary,” they did not receive employee benefits (such as health insurance) and job protections (civil service). The Glaser lawsuit was brought by Bendich, Stobaugh and Strong for the Glaser class to enforce a prior class action settlement negotiated in 1989 by David Stobaugh and Stephen Strong in Scannell v. City of Seattle. That settlement agreement prohibited long-term “temporaries.” The Glaser lawsuit was also brought under the Washington state misclassifications statute which prohibits public employers in Washington from denying employee benefits to employees based on “labels” such as “temporary” or “contractor” which do not fit their actual work circumstances.

The Court certified the class and ruled in the class’s favor on several issues, including that the City had wrongfully discharged Taylor because he was really a civil service-protected employee even though the City said he was a “temporary” employee who was not protected by civil service.

The City then settled the case. The settlement included $11.5 million to compensate about 2000 employees who did not receive benefits (primarily health insurance) from October 1996 to August 2005. The City also created several hundred new fully benefited positions as the result of the settlement.

The Glaser settlement established new processes to ensure that ongoing City employees working more-than-half-time will receive benefits, including health insurance. Key provisions include:

  • New Employee Classifications. The City created objective employee classifications based on the employee's actual work circumstances, particularly hours worked. All employees except true temporary employees working less than one year, and less-than-half-time employees receive full-employee benefits.
  • Centralized Monitoring and Compliance. The City established a centralized monitoring and compliance review process for all temporary and less-than-half-time assignments, and maintains a detailed tracking system to assure compliance in the future. If temporary and less-than-half-time assignments appear ongoing and more than half time, the City creates fully benefitted positions. The temporary employees working in those jobs then receive the same pay and benefits as a regular employee pending the creation of the fully benefitted position.
  • Appeals Process. Employees who believe they have been inappropriately classified as non-benefitted have the right to appeal the decision to a Hearing Examiner or neutral arbitrator.

Settlement Status

Checks were mailed to class members on October 27, 2006.

Claims Administrator

Rust Consulting

Case Documents

Related Press