Employee Giving Program raises almost $2.4M in 2020

King County employees set a new record for dollars raised and number of participants in the 2020 Employee Giving Program Annual Giving Drive, pledging almost $2.4M to nonprofit organizations.

In the last 12 months when most of the news has leaned toward the negative, the Annual Giving Drive has given us some positive numbers to be proud of:

  • $2,392,295 raised
  • 20% over 2019 dollars
  • 614 new participants

In 2020, the Annual Giving Drive ran from Oct. 5 to Nov. 20 under the theme Care. Connect. Act. Even though the Annual Giving Drive was different from previous years, with special events and nonprofit expos taking place virtually, the goal to the support organizations meaningful to King County employees remained true. And in spite of the inability to connect in person, employees rallied together in the spirit of support and charity.

“The last year has been incredibly challenging for many people here in our community and around the world,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “I am truly grateful that our employees saw the need and made the commitment to give even more during these troubled times, demonstrating enormous care and empathy, and going beyond even their remarkable day-to-day service to our community.”

The success of the program was possible because of the creativity and dedication of the Employee G1iving Program Ambassadors. They adapted quickly and used the opportunity to bring their co-workers together in a variety of new ways. They cultivated opportunities to connect, learn, and make a difference through special events such as virtual bingo and trivia, a countywide treasure hunt, online lunch & learns, and bring your pet to work (remotely) day.

Top Ten recipients
King County employees donated to a wide range of organizations, from food banks to schools to animal shelters, some which have received donations before and some who are first-time recipients. Below is an overall list of the Top Ten organizations receiving the most dollars pledged:

  • Northwest Harvest
  • Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands
  • United Way of King County
  • Food Lifeline
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation
  • Mary’s Place
  • Regional Animal Services of King County – Pet Benefit Donation Fund
  • Childhaven
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Below is a list of the Top Ten new organizations based on dollars raised:

  • Community Passageways
  • Renton Regional Community Foundation
  • C895/KNHC Public Radio Association
  • Babies of Homelessness
  • Future Farmers of America (Mansfield School District #207)
  • CHOOSE 180
  • University of Idaho Foundation, Inc.
  • LANGSTON
  • Chief Seattle Club
  • Northwest Community Bail Fund

Although more challenging times lie ahead, King County employees have shown their commitment to the nonprofit organizations that continue to do vital work for people, the environment, and the wildlife it supports. Congratulations King County employees for your support of the 2020 Annual Giving Drive.

2021 Engagement Survey starts March 8

King County’s Employee Engagement Survey is back in 2021, and there are a few changes that we want to share.

Every year, the County’s Employee Engagement team recommends improvements to the data and survey process. Many of these improvement ideas come directly from employees. Their feedback helps us improve the employee experience and data quality, and to provide better analysis.

Here’s what is changing in 2021:

  • All employees will take the survey electronically, saving 80 reams of paper – or roughly five trees each year.
  • There is a new belonging index.
  • There are questions about whether you primarily work from home or onsite.
  • Data will be available sooner.
  • Demographic questions are more specific, and the option for “prefer not to disclose” has been removed. As always, these questions are optional, and people who do not want to answer can skip them.

The most important elements of the survey will not change: the confidentiality and anonymity of participants, and our commitment to act on what employees tell us.

The 2021 Employee Engagement Survey will run from March 8 to 26, and all employees are eligible for the employee survey, except the following:

  • Employees in Superior Court, District Court, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office
  • Employees who are interns or short term temporary (STT)
  • Employees who have not worked at the county for at least 3 months prior to the survey period (for 2021, employees must have started before December 8, 2020 to be eligible).

Look for the survey starting March 8 and don’t miss this great opportunity to have your say.

Community Corrections keeps up with COVID changes

Caseworker Nicole Nyblod (left) and Administrative
Specialist Jennifer Oxier (right) help keep things running at the Community Corrections Division. (Photo:
John Markholt)

The caseworkers who used to oversee the operation in the King County Courthouse aren’t idle – far from it. They’re busier than ever.

Work Education Release and the Community Work Program closed down this year, after a long pandemic pause. But the number of people on Electronic Home Detention shot up over that time. It all spells huge changes for the Community Corrections Division (CCD). Like many countermeasures against COVID19, these appear to be here for the long term.

“Everyone has had to rethink things, and we’re no exception here,” said John Markholt, a CCD corrections program supervisor. “We’re pretty dialed in now with our changes.”

Remote work. A hiring spree. New monitoring equipment. Those are just some of the innovations that Community Corrections has taken on during the pandemic.

Work Release gave judges a sentencing option for people who were employed or enrolled in one of the county’s special treatment courts. When not at work or in treatment, participants were required to stay at the Work Release facility on the 10th floor of the courthouse – an old jail that long predates the nearby King County Correctional Facility. “This was the jail before the jail,” Markholt said.

Electronic Home Detention replaces Work Release program
Electronic Home Detention, on the other hand, gives defendants and sentenced offenders leeway to stay at home – so long as they stick to court -ordered guidelines. It’s the caseworkers’ job to make sure they do.

Electronic Home Detention was hovering slightly below 130 participants in late 2019 and early 2020. Then Work Release went away in March, as King County leaders worked with criminal justice partners on a flurry of moves aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus at DAJD facilities. The new biennial budget that took effect Jan. 1 did away with Work Release permanently, along with CCD’s Community Work Program, a diversion program for lower-level offenders.

Work Release cases averaged about 70 throughout 2019, then shrank to zero as the pandemic took hold. These offenders mostly shifted to home detention. By last summer, the electronic home detention caseload had risen above 200 people – and stayed there.

The workload is driven by what the court orders – and CCD needs to keep up. To deal with the influx, Community Corrections is hiring a half-dozen caseworkers and a new administrative assistant. “It’ll more than double the staffing,” Markholt said. “With the increased workload, there hasn’t been an increase in caseworkers until this recent budget.”

It’s not just the numbers that have changed, but the nature of the work. There’s new technology, as well as expanded monitoring on nights and weekends. Kekoa Jaber, a caseworker for the past 15 years, can now handle many of his clients remotely. He even telecommutes a couple of days a week.

“We were set up in a traditional way pre-Covid where they would come in our office and sit with us,” Jaber said of the clients. “Obviously, that’s changed drastically.”

That doesn’t always make the job easier. Every time someone on Electronic Home Detention deviates from their normal routine, it requires a lot of legwork – legitimate accommodations for work schedules, hospital visits or family emergencies all need to be verified. “I think we’re rolling with it,” Jaber said.

New GPS monitor rollout
In the middle of it all, the program started using a new type of GPS ankle bracelet to monitor clients. “It just happened to come out during the pandemic and we had to get used to a new type of equipment,” said Jennifer Oxier, an administrative specialist.

As Oxier gave a demonstration of the tracking equipment, a man walked into the lobby. He was there to get his ankle bracelet removed after 10 months, he said, now that his charges had been dropped. Oxier obliged. Relieved of the device, he asked her to pass along a thank-you to his caseworker.

That’s nothing unusual, in her experience. “Actually,” Oxier said, “I hear that pretty often.”

Originally posted in Roll Call, the DAJD newsletter, February 2021.

Supporting People with Disabilities: When and how to disclose a disability

One of the key issues that came out of last October’s Disability Awareness Month was how and when to disclose a disability for both King County job applicants and employees with disabilities.

Applying for jobs and maintaining positions can be stressful for anyone, but for a person with a disability–whether visible or invisible–there are added layers of complexity. Should you disclose? When should you ask for accommodations…during the hiring process or after? Disclosure of a disability is a very personal decision. Whether or not you choose to disclose, it’s important to be aware of the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee with a disability.

When to disclose

Under the ADA you can request an accommodation at any time during the application process or while you are employed.

If you are applying to a job within King County, you only need to disclose your disability if you feel like you need assistance during the hiring process. You should inform the recruiter that you need some sort of adjustment to the application or interviewing process orally or in writing. It may take some time for them to arrange it, so you should give them as much notice as possible. The need for reasonable accommodations on the job does not require disclosure or discussion of a disability prior to the start of employment. An applicant’s request for a reasonable accommodation may begin either before or after a job offer has been made.

If you are a current King County employee, you can request an accommodation at any time that you feel your disability is impacting your ability to complete your job’s duties and responsibilities (even if you did not disclose your disability when applying for the job or after receiving a job offer).

Who to disclose to

If you are applying to a King County job, let the recruiter of the position know of your need for an accommodation. They will get you in touch with Disability Services who can assist with accommodation requests.

If you are already a King County employee, you may contact your supervisor, Human Resources representative, or Disability Services directly.

Remember that you have a right to keep information about your disability private. It is not necessary to inform coworkers about your disability or your need for accommodations. While your supervisor or coworkers may be aware of the accommodations, especially if you are allowed to take extra breaks or you have a flexible starting time, they are not entitled to know why. King County is required by the ADA to keep your disability and medical information confidential; managers and supervisors will only be provided information regarding specific limitations and restrictions that result from the disability, not confidential diagnostic information.

What to disclose

When you disclose, just provide basic information about your medical condition, your limitations, and what accommodations you may need. Remember, the ADA contains strict confidentiality requirements. Medical information revealed during the hiring process and during employment must be kept confidential, with certain exceptions.

Examples of reasonable accommodations that may be provided to applicants with disabilities include:

  • Providing written materials in accessible formats, such as large print, braille, or audio files
  • Providing readers or sign language interpreters
  • Ensuring that recruitment, interviews, tests, and other components of the application process are held in accessible locations
  • Providing or modifying equipment or devices
  • Adjusting or modifying application policies and procedures.

Examples of reasonable accommodations that may be provided to employees with disabilities include:

  • A supervisor writes out feedback, rather than presenting it verbally, for an employee who communicates more effectively through written materials.
  • Furniture is moved to make a safer passageway for an employee who is blind.
  • Noise cancelling headset is provided to an employee with depression to help with concentration and focus.
  • Keeping all the essential functions, a job is modified by making it more consistent from day to day, allowing an employee with a cognitive disability to have a structured routine.
  • A flexible work schedule or later start time is provided to an employee with PTSD who experiences sleep problems due to their condition to assist them with morning fatigue.

King County is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities to ensure that individuals with disabilities enjoy equal access to all employment opportunities. If you need assistance with accommodations with either applications or within the workplace, contact the recruiter, your Human Resources representative, supervisor, or Disability Services staff at 206-263-9329 or email DisabilityServices@kingcounty.gov.

If you are interested in learning more about disability disclosure, consider checking out the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) video Deciding Whether to Disclose a Disability During an Interview (10 minutes) and webinar Disclosing a Disability in the Workplace (15 minutes).

King County Security Tips: What’s the deal with data breaches?

Data breaches are becoming more and more common these days. You hear about them in the news all the time. So you might be wondering: what exactly is a data breach? A data breach is when secure information is taken from a trusted environment without permission. The bad guys can use this information to steal your identity, hack into your online accounts, or use the information for targeted phishing attacks to gather even more information about you.

However, just because the data was exposed does not necessarily mean it’s already being used by the bad guys. It only means that bad guys can easily gain access to it. There are steps you can take to protect your information even if you were exposed in a data breach.

How do I protect my information?

  • Use secure passwords. You may also want to try using a password manager.
  • Set up two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
  • Keep your personal information secure. Never share your passwords or personal information with anyone you don’t know. Shred documents with your personal information on it before throwing it away.

What do I do if my information was already exposed in a breach?

Don’t panic! Take a moment to assess the situation. Ask yourself: What sort of information was exposed? Do I need to notify my bank or other entities? What steps should I take to make my information more secure now?

  • If your password was exposed, we recommend changing your password for all online accounts associated with that password immediately. Make sure the password is complex or use a password generator to create one for you. For extra security, you may want to set up two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
  • If your credit card number or bank account number was exposed, we recommend calling your bank or cardholder and canceling your card(s) immediately. Let them know that your information was exposed so they know to look out for charges that may be fraudulent.
  • If your social security number was exposed, immediately report that your social security number was stolen to the police, credit-reporting agencies, and the IRS. You may also want to sign up for a service that can monitor your identity or credit for added protection.

For more information, please email: kcitcsat@kingcounty.gov.

Celebrating Black History Month: The face of change

As a symbol, King County’s logo remains a powerful daily visual reminder for what Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy stands for — past and present — and the values of racial justice and advocacy for fair and equal treatment of people of all races, that he represents for our community and government.

“During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history,” according to The King Center.

Yet the King County logo didn’t always embody the values of the people of this region.

King County was originally named in 1852 for Vice President William R. King, a southern politician and slave owner. Over 130 years later, in 1986, County Councilmember Bruce Laing proposed that King County officially make Dr. King the County’s namesake to honor his legacy and contributions. This transition was supported by numerous state and local elected officials and community leaders.

Twenty years of sustained grassroots campaign and tremendous political pressure mounted by thousands of King County residents on Washington State Legislature and King County Council to change our County logo from an imperial crown to the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr finally led to success. In 2005, the Washington State Legislature formally voted to change to state law making Dr. King the County’s official namesake. The following year, in February 2006, acting on legislation sponsored by then-Council Chair Larry Gossett, the County Council approved a change from the golden crown logo symbolic of a monarchy to one “representing the values of a forward-thinking government whose ideals include justice, diversity and equality.”

After an extensive national competitive process supervised by 4Culture, local firm Tony Gable Design Group was awarded the contract to create the logo and graphic standards. The design group conducted a series of meetings and focus groups with citizens and community leaders to get input on the process and design ideas. The final logo design was selected by a committee of King County elected leaders, and on March 12, 2007, was approved by the County Council by a unanimous vote.

When the elected officials selected the final design, comments about the iconic image of Dr. King that became the King County logo included “striking,”  “portrays a balanced sense of hope,” and “can be supported and embraced by the community.”

The image of Dr. King that now adorns everything from buses to park signs to our websites and social media presence represents not only the programs and government of King County, but what we strive to achieve in service to our community. As we take the time to celebrate Black History Month, it’s also a time to reflect on what we can do in our work — every day of the year — to embody the philosophy and example of the King County namesake.  Learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. King and view our virtual 2021 celebration, Creating the Beloved Community.

What to do if you are victim of unemployment fraud

Last year, many employees were victims of unemployment fraud, which has resulted in some employees receiving 1099-G forms showing reported income from Washington State Employment Security Department. If you have received a 1099-G from the State of Washington and already reported the fraud, please follow the instructions provided at ESDWAGOV – Tax info for fraud victims.  

If you are just learning that you may have been a victim of unemployment fraud because you received a 1099-G, please also take the following steps:

1. Step One – Contact ESD

Complete a fraud report on the ESD secure site: Fraud reporting form

You will need to include the following information when you contact ESD:

  • Your full name
  • Last four digits of your Social Security number
  • Your address, date of birth, and phone number
  • Information on how you learned a claim was filed on your behalf

2. Step Two – Contact HR

  • Please contact your Human Resources Manager as well as the Department of Human Resources’ unemployment coordinator Elizabeth Detels at edetels@kingcounty.gov. Please include a copy of the letter that was mailed to your home so that we can notify our third-party vendor, Employer’s Edge.

3. Step Three – Police report

  • File an online or non-emergency report with the law enforcement agency whose jurisdiction you live in.
  • Seattle residents can file an online report at the City of Seattle Online Reporting website.
  • King County residents can file an online report at the King County Online Reporting website.
  • Start keeping a file folder or journal with the information from this incident, including any case numbers. Some government services and accommodations are available to victims of identity theft that are not available to the general public, such as getting certain public records sealed.

4. Step Four – FTC Identity Theft report

5. Step Five – The three major credit bureaus

  • Obtain your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
  • Report to the credit bureaus that the fraudulent claim was made using your identity and provide them with the case number from your police report. You can have a fraud alert put on your identity or freeze your credit. Doing either is free by law.
  • A fraud alert is free and will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two.
  • Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
    • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Check your credit activity at least once a year. As a victim of identity theft, you have the right to check it monthly if you choose.
  • Credit Freeze – If you do not have upcoming large purchases, such as a home, you may want to freeze your credit for more protection. It is free, and you can do it yourself. Learn more at the FTC Consumer Identity Credit Freeze site.

6. Step Six – Keep your notes

  • Hang on to any notes, copies of emails, etc. This is the paper trail that you can reference if you face any identity issues or locate inaccuracies on your credit history sometime in the future.

If you are a victim of identity fraud, please make sure you follow these steps. They may seem like more work than they are worth; however, they are crucial in helping you recover and combat this crime nationwide.

Be prepared for cold temperatures, snow, and ice

Snow is forecast for our region this week with extremely cold temperatures and icy road conditions expected, so please be prepared for possible commute delays and impacts to business operations.

If you work onsite, please be prepared for cold weather. Have a plan for your commute, dress warmly, and let safety be your guide when making commute decisions. If you drive, have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including extra clothing, food, water, and a flashlight. Also, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged. Please remember to wear a mask at work, stay at least six feet away from others, wash hands often, and follow other risk reduction strategies and county COVID-19 policies.

Power outages: If you are teleworking and experience a power outage that affects your ability to effectively work remotely, please contact your supervisor to discuss other options for completing work tasks. These may include taking leave or working from your regular King County worksite.

HR Policies: When an agency remains open, but conditions prevent you from reporting to work or from reporting on time, notify your supervisor as soon as possible. You may request leave, subject to approval by your supervisor. If you have no leave accrued, your supervisor may approve leave without pay to cover absences. Sick leave may not be used. Refer to HR Bulletin 2011-0009 County Operations During Emergency Situations and Inclement Weather (Sheriff’s Office employees refer to KCSO Inclement Weather Policy; Superior Court and District Court employees please see check court policies).

Alternative work arrangements: If you are impacted by the weather and adjusting work schedules, working at an alternative location, or taking vacation are options for your job, please discuss these beforehand with your supervisor.

Resources for travelers

Stay informed: Make sure you’re getting the latest King County information at work and at home in the event of inclement weather.

  • Sign up for KCInform, King County’s employee alert and warning system. KCInform is used to reach County employees during an emergency with timely information about infrastructure disruptions, facility impacts, changes in your department’s business operations, and other critical impacts. Your King County desk phone and @kingcounty.gov email are already in the system. It is important to register your County-issued cell phone (if applicable) and personal cell phone and email address to ensure you receive time-sensitive messages. This service is free and your personal contact information is secure and protected. To sign up, please contact kcinform@kingcounty.gov anytime or 206-296-3830 between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday to request your unique registration link. Visit the KCInform website to learn more or watch our short video.  
  • Call the Employee Hotline—206-205-8600 (save it to your phone now!).
  • Check your King County email for information on business operations, delays, and closures. Log on at http://outlook.kingcounty.gov. Some agencies may send additional instructions directly to their staff.
  • Contact your supervisor for instructions.
  • Visit the Emergency News page at kcemergency.com for regional impacts.

Celebrating Black History Month 2021 in King County

King County Executive Dow Constantine has proclaimed February 2021 to be Black History Month in King County.

“King County acknowledges the long history of forced enslavement, and institutional and structural racism toward African Americans in the U.S. and its generational impacts, and has committed itself to make progress on Equity and Social Justice, reflecting its commitment to racially just policies and practices that create opportunities for all people to thrive,“ Executive Constantine said in his Proclamation.

“The scientific, technological, economic, political, and cultural innovations by Black Americans and African Americans have been essential to the progress of our nation and we will continue to honor these accomplishments every month and every day in Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., County, Washington State.” View the Executive’s proclamation below.

Pause on visits to Administration Building remains in place

COVID-19 infection rates remain high In our region and we need to be vigilant in our efforts to slow the spread of the virus and make our workplaces safer for employees and the people we serve.

Many King County employees remain under the Executive’s mandatory telework order through July 5, 2021, where their work and operations allow for it, and heightened safety measures and protocols have been instituted for those delivering in-person services.

The county also continues to restrict employee access to its facilities and has extended the pause on employees accessing the Administration Building until further notice. Only those employees who are approved by their supervisor or manager to report to the Administration Building for operational reasons are permitted inside. Other employees are not allowed in the Administration Building until further notice. (However, employees can continue to use the tunnel access to the Courthouse and Goat Hill Garage.)

By limiting the number of people in our facilities and on our roads and transit system, we can keep our worksites safer for those employees delivering in-person services.

Until restrictions are further eased, the Facilities Management Division (FMD) is unable to provide an exact date for the Administration Building closure. However, FMD will ensure that everyone has plenty of time to collect personal items and finalize preparations before the closure.

Please continue to follow all King County policies, state mandates, and Public Health guidance to guard against COVID-19. As always, thank you for doing your part to help keep our community healthy.