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Newsletter Archive

August 2012 Newsletter         Subscribe to this newsletter

August 2012

In this issue:

Seattle employees to receive new Paid Sick and Safe Time benefit

All of us get sick occasionally, and many of us have even gone to work sick. Sometimes we have had to make the choice between our physical health and our economic health because of a lack of paid sick time.

Beginning September 1, 2012, that will change. If you work in Seattle you will be able to accrue paid hours to use when you or a family member falls ill, or to take time off from work due to a critical safety issue.

The City of Seattle's Paid Sick/Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance ensures that employees can care for their health or personal safety without losing pay. It protects everyone in the community by limiting the spread of illness. And it promotes equity by developing more equal access to paid sick and safe time, since women and people of color are less likely to work in jobs that provide these benefits.

How will the ordinance work?

The ordinance applies to all employers with more than four full-time equivalent employees. All employees are eligible, including full time, part- time and temporary workers. The hourly accrual rate depends on your employer's size. Employees also will be able to carry over a limited amount of unused sick and safe time to the next calendar year.

Employees will be able to use accrued PSST as paid time off:

  • To deal with your own illness, injury or health condition.
  • To take care of a family member (including domestic partners)
  • with an illness, injury or medical appointment.
  • When your place of business has been closed by order of a public official for health reasons.
  • For reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • What kind of help is available for implementation?

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) is responsible for enforcing this new law. We are working closely with employers to help them implement the new requirements. We also offer free presentations and technical assistance, as well as brochures, posters and other materials.

For more information about paid sick and safe time, visit, email or call 206-684-4500.

Immigrant leaders help educate on fair housing rights

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is proud to be a part of a partnership grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to conduct outreach on fair housing rights with Seattle's immigrant and refugee communities. Our office is working with the Department of Neighborhood's Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons to conduct train-the-trainer sessions in eight different communities, followed-up by additional outreach.

The first session was held on Saturday, July 21st with the Oromo community. Over 30 people were in attendance from across all age groups. Mr. Habtamu M. Abdi, Program Coordinator for the Center for East African Community Affairs, spoke passionately about fair housing and provided information in Oromo. English responses to participants' questions were interpreted back into Oromo. The session was video recorded and community leaders plan to use it at other community events. Community leaders received certificates of completion after the training as fair housing advocates for their community.

Mr. Habtamu Abdi from the Center for East African Community Affairs provides a presentation on civil rights for the Oromo community. (Photo credit: Mr. Yohannes Beshi)

We will continue to work with the Oromo community in Seattle on fair housing and civil rights. If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact Jacque Larrainzar at (206) 684-4533 or by email at

Human Rights Day: Thursday, December 13 Honoring Heroes
Respecting Rights - Demanding Dignity

Every day in Seattle, heroes stand up for human rights and dignity. The Office for Civil Rights and the Seattle Human Rights Commission are planning the 2012 Seattle Human Rights Day celebration on Thursday, December 13th to illuminate the work of a few such heroes and to focus attention on our commitment to human rights.

Seattle Human Rights Day commemorates the formal adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the U.N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948. This declaration marks the first global enunciation of human rights. It serves as the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

Seattle Human Rights Day is a time to celebrate and learn about human rights. "It has long been recognized that an essential element in protecting human rights was a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended," said Boutros Boutros- Ghali, UN Secretary-General from 1992-1996.

Human Rights Day also offers the opportunity to honor Seattle area organizations and individuals who have advanced human rights on the local, national or international stage. Later this fall, community members will be invited to submit nominations to receive the 2012 Seattle Human Rights Award.

Seattle Human Rights Day on Thursday, December 13th is free and open to the public, with light refreshments and ASL interpretation provided. The event will be held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in City Hall. Event organizers are actively seeking co-sponsors and volunteers. For more information, please contact Felicia Yearwood 206-684-4537 or

City welcomes Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has selected Magdaleno Rose-Avila as the director of the new Office for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, created by Seattle City Council in late 2011. Rose-Avila has served as executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Social Justice Fund NW, as well as regional director of Amnesty International.

"I welcome this most important opportunity and responsibility for this office," said Rose-Avila. "I look forward to working with the immigrant and refugee communities and all those who believe that they can build a vision of hope for all people in our city. Seattle has the opportunity to lead by example, dream the impossible, and work to make it a reality."

Among its many responsibilities, the Office for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will staff the City's Immigrant and Refugee Commission, which advises the Mayor, City Council and city departments on ways to enhance and improve access to city services and resources for immigrants and refugees. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) had previously provided staff support to the Commission.

"I'm really excited to work closely with Leno and his staff to support our mutual goal of ending racial inequity in our city and creating opportunities for all," said Julie Nelson, SOCR's director. "We are looking forward to strong collaboration as we serve the needs of our Seattle's diverse communities."

For more information on the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs visit:

Car booting program underway

The City of Seattle has created a webpage with information on theScofflaw Ordinance. As part of the law, the boot, a wheel-locking device, locks the vehicles of Seattle drivers who have four or more overdue, unpaid parking tickets. A boot may be placed on your vehicle even if it is currently legally parked.

The Scofflaw webpage is a good resource to learn if you have any tickets, how to pay for them and what to do if you get the boot. The program went into effect on July 5th 2011. Information on the website is translated into five languages, including Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese and Amharic. To learn more visit

New factsheets available!

We have created a few new fact sheets on civil rights and social justice. Feel free to download at or contact our office to receive hard copy versions. To request copies of materials please contact Ron Ramp at (206) 684-0390 or email Ron.Ramp@Seattle.Gov.


NAACP Health & Education Fun Run
Saturday, August 25th from 10am-2pm Judkins Park in Seattle

Civil Rights 101 for Social Service Providers
Tuesday, September 25 1pm-5pm FREE! To register please email Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 684-4514. Space is limited and slots fill up fast.

Save the Date! Arts & Social Change Symposium
October 12 & 13, 2012 Seattle Center

Seattle Office for Civil Rights
Julie Nelson, Director

For newsletter questions contact Brenda Anibarro, (206) 684-4514 Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov