Sarah N. Turner


  • Office Contact Info
  • Biography
    Sarah Turner is a partner with the Employment/Labor group and is located in the Seattle and Portland office.  Ms. Turner’s practice includes counseling and litigation.  Her litigation experience includes defending employers in matters involving claims for wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, privacy, defamation, ADA, leave and benefits, breach of contract, violation of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, and wage and hour.  Ms. Turner has defended clients from lawsuits that are filed in state and federal courts, arbitrations before American Arbitration Association and Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, and in matters filed with federal and state agencies including the National Labors Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, Department of Health, Washington’s Labor & Industries, Washington’s Human Rights Commission, Seattle Office of Civil Rights, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, and other state and local administrative agencies.
    Ms. Turner also counsels, trains, and represents clients on a broad range of employment issues including, hiring and termination practices, workplace investigations, discrimination and harassment, retaliation, ERISA benefits, Affordable Care Act,  wage and hour, drug and alcohol policies (with a focus on legalization of marijuana), and union practices.  Ms. Turner also has experience counseling and representing employers in traditional labor disputes involving unfair labor practices and federal preemption issues.
    Ms. Turner’s practice also includes federal and state litigation of group and individual life, health and disability benefits and breach of fiduciary duty claims under ERISA. She has successfully defended clients in lawsuits filed in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Washington and Oregon federal courts. Ms. Turner has authored publications on several ERISA-related topics.


    United States District Courts, Washington, Eastern and Western District
    United States District Court, Oregon
    United States District Courts, District of Massachusetts
    United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


    American Bar Association
    Washington State Bar Association
    Oregon State Bar Association
    King County Bar Association
    Washington Defense Trial Lawyers
    Defense Research Institute

    Community Involvement

    Women Business Owners Association
    Society for Human Resource Management

  • Practice Areas
  • Representative Experience

    Representative Experience

    • Ms. Turner prevailed on summary judgment in U.S. District Court Washington, Eastern Division for a media outlet on an ADA and FMLA claim.  The plaintiff then appealed to the Ninth Circuit and after briefing the Ninth Circuit upheld the motion for summary judgment in favor of the employer.  Plaintiff then filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court in which Ms. Turner was successful in dismissing.  Ms. Turner obtained a favorable result at a bench trial in Oklahoma federal court for a nationwide insurance company in an ERISA matter involving denial of long-term disability benefits.  Ms. Turner successfully convinced the Court that the insurance company’s efforts to reduce potential bias it was not necessary to give much weight to the potential  conflict of interest related to the insurance company’s role as claims administrator and payor of benefits.
    • Ms. Turner obtained a favorable result at a bench trial in Washington federal court for a nationwide insurance company in an ERISA matter involving denial of short-term disability benefits.
    • Ms. Turner prevailed on summary judgment for a Minnesota company in Washington federal court and obtained a complete dismissal of the age discrimination and wrongful withholding wage claims. 
    • Ms. Turner represented in Oregon state court a nationwide railroad carrier against claims of gender and disability discrimination, wrongful termination, breach of contract, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress made by a former employee. Ms. Turner was successful in obtaining an early dismissal of all claims on a motion to dismiss.
    • In the first transgender discrimination trial in the state of Washington, Ms. Turner obtained a favorable result following a three week bench trial representing a specialty coffee retailer and wholesaler. The plaintiff alleged that his privacy had been invaded and he was discriminated against during his transition from female to male while working as a Barista. The trial resulted in the dismissal of all discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, outrage, and wage claims.
    • Ms. Turner represented a non-profit wolf sanctuary against breach of contract, defamation, and withholding wage claims brought against it by the former Executive Director. After two years of litigation, Ms. Turner successfully obtained a dismissal of all claims against the organization on summary judgment.
  • Publications & Presentations


    • Opinion Letters - A Valuable But Often an Underutilized Tool by Employers: The Department of Labor Authors Six New Opinion Letters Responding to Unique FMLA and FLSA Employment Issues, Employee Relations Law Journal (Summer 2019)
    • Washington Offers Paid Family and Medical Leave for Employees - But First It Must Be Funded (Phase 1), Employee Benefit Plan Review, (May 2019)
    • The Weinstein Tax Update: The IRS Clarifies the Unintended Consequence Directly Affecting Plaintiffs with Sexual Harassment Claims (March 2019)
    • Ringing in the New Year (Part II): Washington Becomes the Fifth State to Offer Paid Family and Medical Leave for Employees – But First It Must Be Funded (Phase I) (January 2019)
    • AMEC, Media and Entertainment Counsel, The “Weinstein Tax” and the Unintended Consequences of Congress’ Response to the #MeToo Movement One Year Later (Fall 2018)
    • Significant Insurance Coverage Decisions and Trends, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, New York and Hartford (May 2018)
    • The “Weinstein Tax” and the Unintended Consequences of Congress’ Response To the #MeToo Movement (February 2018)
    • Ringing In The New Year For Many Washington Employees Will Include Guaranteed Minimum Wage Increases And Receiving Paid Sick Time (January 2018)
    • Employees Can Inhale, But What Should Employers Do?  Update on how the legalization of marijuana in Washington impacts employers and their drug testing policiesSeattle Employment Law Symposium (March 2014).
    • The Era of De Novo Review And The Future of ERISA Discovery Beyond The Administrative Record, DRI ERISA Report (January 2014)
    • Update on Pregnancy Discrimination Law (Fall 2007)  
    • Have You Replaced Your I-9 Form with the New and Improved Version? (Fall 2007)  
    • Credit Report Background Checks (Summer 2007)  
    • Washington Redefines Disability Under RCW 49.60.040 (Summer 2007)  
    • Update on Minimum Wage Law (Spring 2007)  



    • Marijuana in the Workplace, Mechanical Trade Contractors of Arizona, Presentation (May 2019)
    • Marijuana in the Workplace, Federated Webinar (March 2019)
    • Seattle Paid Sick Leave Law (January 2019)
    • Performance and Termination Decisions Under the FMLA and ADA, Strafford Webinars (October 31, 2018)
    • Emerging Issues and Exposures Impacting ERISA Life Health & Disability Claims, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, New York and Hartford (May 2018)
    • New ERISA Regulations and Sweeping Reform of Discovery Rules:  What Every Claims Professional Must Know About How The Regulations Will Affect the Claim and Litigation Process, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, Hartford (May 2017)
    • Employment Retaliation Claims on the Rise: Avoiding and Defending EEOC Charges and Private Lawsuits, Strafford Webinar (April 13, 2017)
    • Navigating the Mixed-Motive Causation Standard in Title VII, ADA and FMLA Claims, Strafford Webinar (February 8, 2017)
    • Mitigating Punitive Damages in Employment Retaliation and Discrimination Cases: Leveraging Recent Court Decisions, Strafford Webinars (November 15, 2016)
    • How to Conduct Workplace Investigations, Gordon & Rees Webinar (September 2016)
    • The NLRB & You: Labor Compliance for Non-Union Employers, Gordon & Rees Webinar (June 2016)
    • Medical Marijuana, Prescription Drugs, Alcohol and Illegal Drugs in the Workplace, Gordon & Rees Webinar (June 2015)
    • Sensitivity in the Workplace:  Preventing and Investigating Harassment, Gordon & Rees Webinar (September 2014)
    • What Employers Need to Know about Medical Related Accommodations and Leave: A Practical Application of the ADA, FMLA and Washington Disability and Medical Leave Laws, October 2014 (Seattle, WA)
    • Seattle Employment Law Symposium: The Impact of New Federal and Local Laws on Employers and Businesses, March 2014 (Seattle, WA)
    • What Your Company Needs to Know to Be Prepared, June 2012 (Seattle, WA)
    • Business and Legal Resources/Employer Resources Institute
      • Training Your New Supervisors, 11 Practical Lessons for Turning Brand New Managers Into Effective Leaders (March 2011)
      • EEO-1, Reports and Resurveys (August 2010)
      • The Hire Act, How to Earn Tax Credit & Exemptions for New Hires in 2010 Without Breaking the Rules (August 2010)
    • Everything An Employer Needs to Know About Building a Workforce Women's Business Owners (February 2009)
    • Employment Law for Small Businesses - The Nuts and Bolts of Employment Law, Urban Enterprise Center, Minority Business Roundtable (June 2009)
    • Employment Practices Liability Update (November 2008)
    • Leave and Compensation Issues (January 2008)
    • Hot Topics in Employment Discrimination (November 2007)
    • Sexual Harassment (October 2007)
    • Pre-Employment Inquiries (July 2007)
    • Wage and Hour Law (April 2007)
  • Education


    J.D., cum laude, New England School of Law, 2002

    • New England School of Law Service Award

    B.A., University of California, San Diego, 1997


    Massachusetts Superior Court Judicial Clerkship


    Listed in Super Lawyers® Top 50 Women Lawyers in Washington (2019 & 2020, Law & Politics)

    Super Lawyers® distinction in the fields of Employment Litigation: Defense, Insurance Coverage, Employment & Labor, and Employee Benefits (2016-2020, Law & Politics)

    Rising Stars® distinction in the fields of Employment Litigation: Defense; Employment & Labor; and Employee Benefits/ERISA (2010-2012, 2014, Law & Politics)