From Maxwell Burke’s blog:
Ryan Rocha, et al. v. King County, No. 51823-6-II (Wash. Ct. App. Feb. 21, 2019)
Each plaintiff had been summoned for jury duty in King County, Washington; one served 11 days of jury duty and the other was granted an economic hardship excuse by the court. Slip op., p.1. The plaintiffs thereafter sued King County, “alleging that King County’s jury pay disparately excluded jurors from service based on economic status and that jurors were entitled to be paid minimum wage for their service.” p.2. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of King County, dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims. Id.
Division II of the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.
Regarding the disparate impact claim, the court held that “[e]conomic status is not recognized as a protected class under the” Washington Law Against Discrimination, ch. 49.60 RCW. Slip op., p.3 (citing RCW 49.60.030(1)). Because the plaintiffs “did not plead a disparate impact claim under the equal protection clause in the superior court nor do they argue a constitutional disparate impact claim on appeal,” the court declined to address whether they established a constitutional disparate impact claim. p.4/
The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that they were entitled to relief under the “no juror exclusion” statute, which provides that a “citizen shall not be excluded from jury service in this state on account of . . . economic status.” p.5 (quoting RCW 2.36.080(3)). That statute does not explicitly provide a remedy for violations of the relevant provision. Id. Further, the plaintiffs failed to show that RCW 2.36.080(3) created an implied cause of action under Bennett v. Hardy, 113 Wn.2d 912, 783 P.2d 1258 (1990). p.7 Analyzing the statute under the Bennett test, the court held in pertinent part that the “legislature did not intend to guarantee jurors be able to serve by providing adequate financial compensation. Therefore, it would be inconsistent with the legislative intent to imply a remedy based on jurors’ financial compensation for alleged violations of RCW 2.36.080(3).” Id.
The court also rejected the argument that King County violated the Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA), ch. 49.46 RCW. The court held that the jurors do not meet the definition of “employee” under the MWA; the MWA “does not transform the fundamental nature of jury service as a civic duty.” p.11.
Finally, though the trial did not address the issue, the appellate court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to seek a declaratory judgment under both RCW 2.36.080(3) and the MWA. p.12.
Judge Bjorgen filed a dissenting opinion. pp.14-25.