Timothy J. O’Connell

Timothy J. O’Connell

Seattle, WA

About Tim

Tim O’Connell is a partner of the firm practicing labor and employment law. He is experienced in collective bargaining, unfair labor practice and representation proceedings before the NLRB and public sector agencies, labor arbitrations, equal employment and discrimination cases before administrative agencies and courts, wage and hour counseling and litigation, workplace safety and health disputes, wrongful discharge litigation, and general personnel management. Tim is regularly called to testify before the Washington legislature on labor and employment law issues and has drafted and advised on new legislation. He has also been actively involved in the rulemaking process, both drafting and negotiating new rules and leading litigation challenging agency action.

Tim is the immediate past Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee for the Association of Washington Business, Washington’s state-wide chamber of commerce.

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Labor Relations

  • Representation of operator of a system of urgent care clinics in the negotiation of its first contract with a unit of physicians and other health care providers, with most negotiations conducted virtually via Zoom. Result: after 18 months of bargaining, a successful first contract was reached.
  • Representation of construction industry multi-employer bargaining group, as well as a group of independent employers in the same industry, in negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement. Result: an acceptable contract was reached after only a few bargaining sessions.
  • Representation of operator of medical clinics in its employees’ decertification campaign against SEIU, including defense of numerous “blocking” charges. Result: all alleged unfair labor practices rejected or resolved, and the union was decertified.
  • Representation of health care system in union challenges to the client’s decision to mandate vaccination against influenza. Result: defeated union efforts in federal court, state court and labor arbitration and before the NLRB, allowing implementation of the client’s mandatory vaccination program in every case.
  • Representation of Washington public sector employer in union attempt to represent a unit of supervisors and managers. Result: over union objection, the proposed unit was split into separate units of supervisors and managers, and the union representation of managers was rejected.
  • Served as lead negotiator for a high-tech contractor when a small group of employees unionized. Result: successful first contract achieved, and then successfully defended unfair labor practices when the department was dissolved and all unionized employees laid off.
  • Served as lead negotiator for a grain export company in bargaining with ILWU. Result: after three years of bargaining, achieved a contract with substantial union concessions.
  • Served as lead negotiator for a hospital in re-opener negotiation to implement the hospital’s first 12-hour shift schedules. Result: desired schedules implemented.
  • Representation of hospital in federal court defending against union attempt to force the consolidation of grievances arising under different collective bargaining agreements. Result: federal district court agreed that consolidation was a question of substantive arbitrability, and the union’s petition to compel arbitration was denied.
  • Representation of hospital in labor arbitration on the issue of whether certain training time was compensable. Result: complete rejection of union claims.
  • Representation of telecommunications company in arbitration challenging client’s ability to bar employees from using certain tools they had used for many years, resulting in work being sent to contractors. Result: arbitrator rejected all union claims.
  • Bliesner v. CWA & Verizon Northwest, Inc. Representation of employer before Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Result: decision established new (and still current) law on order of proof in hybrid Section 301/duty of fair representation cases.

General Labor and Employment Law

  • Bennett v. Franciscan Health System. Representation of employer in challenge by the state Department of Labor & Industries that the employer’s Paid Time Off program did not comply with Washington’s Paid Sick Leave laws. Result: summary judgment granted in administrative hearing, and on appeal persuaded the Director of the Department to reject the position urged by Department staff.
  • Boyd Coffee Co. v. Miller Nash, LLP. Retained as expert witness regarding the standard of care for a labor and employment lawyer in the state of Washington. Result: expert declaration was cited by the trial court as the basis to reject plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment; case settled on extremely favorable terms on second day of trial.
  • Washington State Nurses Ass’n v. MultiCare Health System. Representation of client defending against claims that its mandatory flu vaccination program failed to reasonably accommodate disabilities or religious beliefs. Result: defeated a motion for temporary restraining order filed the business day before it was argued; case was later dismissed on the same grounds.
  • Lopez v. TrueBlue, Inc. Retained as an expert witness in attorneys’ fees dispute after plaintiff accepted an offer of judgment. Result: expert declaration was relied on by trial court to reduce claimed fees and costs from $1.2 million to less than $400,000.
  • Washington State Nurses Ass’n v. Sacred Heart Medical Center. Prepared amicus briefing on behalf of several clients addressing the rate of pay for missed “rest breaks.” Result: the court of appeals ruled in the client’s favor on the grounds argued in our briefing.
  • Verizon v. Employment Security Dep’t. Representation of the employer before the Washington Supreme Court, whose decision overturned an adverse summary judgment ruling by the administrative agency and instead granted summary judgment to our client. Result: grants of unemployment compensation to over 300 employees who accepted early separation incentives were reversed.
  • Wise v. Verizon & MetLife. Representation of employer in appeal of ERISA plan coverage denial. Result: obtained summary judgment for clients, later modified by Ninth Circuit, establishing new case law regarding the appropriate statute of limitations for a claim for ERISA benefits under Washington law.
  • WE CARE v. Dep’t of Labor & Industries. Served as lead counsel for a coalition of over 150 businesses and business associations challenging Washington’s “ergonomics” regulations. Result: while the case was pending before the Washington Supreme Court, the regulation was struck down by a voter-approved initiative.
  • Zuver v. AirTouch, Inc. Representation of amicus Association of Washington Business; argued to the Washington Supreme Court. Result: obtained favorable decision on the enforceability of employee arbitration agreements.
  • Roberts v. Dudley. Representation of amici Association of Washington Business, National Federation of Independent Business, and Independent Business Association; argued to the Washington Supreme Court on this expansion of the tort of wrongful discharge.
  • Washington Regulation of Salary Payments for White Collar Workers. Served as sole employer representative in this negotiated rulemaking. Result: rules were adapted (WAC 296-128-500, -532, and -533) that effectively overturned adverse case law from the state supreme court.
  • On several occasions, led all labor and employment related aspects of due diligence and contractual negotiations for merger of various health care providers.

Wage and Hour Litigation

  • Hassan et al. v. GCA Services Group. Representation of employer in this 60-plaintiff litigation seeking application of SeaTac minimum wage ordinance (the first “$15.00 minimum wage” in the nation). Result: summary judgment affirmed by the Court of Appeals on the basis that the employer was not covered by the ordinance, as well as establishing new law on the preclusive effect of earlier favorable administrative decisions.
  • Webster v. Maverik, Inc. Representation of employer in class action challenging convenience store employer provision of rest and meal breaks. Result: extremely favorable settlement on “claims-made” basis.
  • Malloque & Rachner, et al. v. MultiCare Health System. Representation of employer in this putative class action challenging health care system’s practices regarding the provision of meal and rest breaks. Result: case settled on favorable terms.
  • Dalgliesh v. Verizon Northwest, Inc. Representation of employer in a class action claiming unpaid wages for “home dispatch” time. Claims settled on favorable terms.

Workplace Safety and Health

  • Appointed to two consecutive terms as a member of the labor-management committee created under Washington law to make recommendations to the Governor for appointment to the neutral Chair position on the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. By statute, the Governor is limited to appointing only an individual recommended by the committee.
  • Representation of multiple health care clinics contesting state citations for alleged failures to provide adequate protective equipment and protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Result: agreed safety protocols implemented and citations withdrawn or acceptably modified.
  • In re Phillips 66 Company Refinery. Representation of company in response to numerous citations for alleged violations of safety standards including process safety management rules. Result: many citations satisfactorily settled and remaining claims successfully litigated.
  • In re Watco Transport Co. Representation of employer in numerous citations relating to proper personal protective equipment and emergency response practices. Result: one citation withdrawn in re-assumption process, and all other citations dismissed after hearing.
  • Representation of farming employer in numerous citations addressed to pesticide regulations and other agricultural practices. Result: several citations vacated, grouped or down graded in severity during re-assumption proceeding, resulting in total fine being reduced by more than half.
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Honors & Activities

Professional Honors and Activities

  • Named by Best Lawyers® as Communications Law “Lawyer of the Year,” Seattle, 2022 and 2024
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (Communications Law, Employment Law—Management, Labor Law—Management, Health Care Law), 2009–2024
  • Listed in Washington Super Lawyers® (Employment & Labor, Communications), 2012–2023
  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Washington) by Chambers USA (Labor & Employment), 2004–2023
  • Selected as a “Labor & Employment Star” by Benchmark Litigation
  • Member, Nurse Staffing Committee, Washington State Hospital Association
  • Hearing Officer, Disciplinary Board of the Washington State Bar Association
  • Executive Committee, Administrative Law Section, Washington State Bar Association
  • Member, Labor and Employment Law Section, King County Bar Association
  • Editor, Washington State Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section Website, 2008–2011
  • Past Chairman, Employment Law Committee, Association of Washington Business
  • Association of Washington Business Chairman’s “Heavy Lifter” Award, 2002 and 2015

Civic Activities

  • Chair, Mercer Island Utilities Board
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Frequent contributor to Stoel Rives’ blogs including World of Employment and Health Law Insider
  • “Impact of New Staffing Law on 2024 Staffing Committees,” Washington State Hospital Association webinar, 2023
  • Quoted in “SCOTUS ruling on WA strike damages not a ‘catastrophe’ for unions,” Crosscut, 2023
  • “Recent Developments Regarding the ADA, Title VII, and other Requirements for Reasonable Accommodation,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 21st Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, 2023
  • There and Back Again: Labor & Employment Issues in Managing the Virtual Workforce and Returning to the Workplace,” Association of Washington Business webinar, 2020
  • What Hospitals Need to Know About FFCRA,” Washington State Hospital Association webinar, 2020
  • “Living in a White Collar World,” Stoel Rives LLP webinar, 2020
  • “Managing the COVID-Era Workplace Part 2: OSHA Guidance Update and Analysis,” Stoel Rives LLP webinar, 2020
  • “Webinar: Taming the Covid Chaos Part 7: Union Management Issues,” Stoel Rives LLP webinar, 2020
  • Opinion: Employers need to prepare for new noncompete laws,” Puget Sound Business Journal, 2019
  • “Labor Law Update,” Annual Employment Law Seminar, Law Seminar International, 2002–2018; seminar co-chair 2000–2011 and 2018–2019
  • “Labor and Employment Update,” Washington State Society of Healthcare Attorneys, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2012–2014 and 2016–2019; virtual presentation, 2020 and 2021
  • “The Two Faces of Janus: The Good, and the Bad, of Janus v. AFSCME,” Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts webinar, 2018
  • “Paid Safe and Sick Leave: What Should We Be Doing Now,” wafla webinar, 2018
  • “Paid Safe & Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave: What’s a Hospital To Do?” Washington State Hospital Association webinar, 2018
  • “The Assault on Ag Wages: Is the Overtime Exemption Constitutional?” wafla Annual Labor Conference, 2018
  • “Washington Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave,” Stoel Rives Breakfast Briefing, 2017
  • “WSHA Ebola and Employment Law Webcast,” Washington State Hospital Association, 2014
  • “If You Don’t Like the Score, Change the Rules: The Campaign to Increase Unionization,” Stoel Rives Breakfast Seminar, 2014
  • “Wage and Hour Law Update,” Ash Grove Cement National Human Resources Conference, Overland Park, Kansas, 2014
  • “Lessons for California’s Minimum Wage Proposal,” LA Daily Journal, 2014
  • Quoted in “Machinists Continue Filing Claims Against National Union over Boeing Vote,” Puget Sound Business Journal, 2014
  • Labor Relations for Health Care Employers: Turbulent Times Call for Careful Measures Across Providers” (co-author), Health Care Law Roundtable, The Advisory Board Company, 2013
  • “Meal and Rest Break Litigation: Theories, Themes and Prospects,” Northwest Organization of Nurse Executives, 2011
  • “A Long and Proud Tradition: Major Idiosyncrasies of Washington Labor and Employment Law,” The Seminar Group, 2011
  • “Changing the Rules: The Federal Government Makes Union Organizing Easier,” Washington Healthcare News, November 2011
  • “2010 Labor and Employment Law: Year in Review,” Washington State Society of Healthcare Attorneys, 2010
  • “Changes Coming for Rest and Meal Breaks?” Washington Healthcare News, 2010
  • “The Post-RIF Workplace,” Stoel Rives LLP Breakfast Seminar, 2009
  • “Legislative Update,” Stoel Rives LLP Breakfast Seminar, 2007
  • “Discrimination Law Update; Wage and Hour Developments; Recent Significant Court Decisions,” The Seminar Group, 2007
  • “Breaking News: A Legislative Update,” Stoel Rives LLP Seminar, 2006
  • “Ergonomics: Every Employer’s New Nightmare,” 15th Annual Employment Law Seminar, Association of Washington Business, 2001
  • “Making it Stick: Documenting Performance Problems and Misconduct,” Lorman Business Education Institute, 2000
  • “The FLSA at Sixty: Developing Areas in Wage and Hour Law,” Washington State Bar Association, 1997
  • “Hiring, Firing and Staying Out of Court,” Washington Employment Security Department/Everett Community College, 1996
  • “The Employer’s Obligation to the Disabled,” Association of Legal Administrators Newsletter, 1989
  • Comment, “Oregon Adopts Comparable Worth Study Legislation,” Willamette Law Review, 1984

Related News & Publications

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