Washington Laws Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation

Anti-discrimination laws protect employees from being mistreated by their employer based on race, color, national origin, disability, religion, gender, marital status, age over 40, military service, and sexual orientation, among other protections. You cannot be denied employment opportunities, such as promotions, raises, or benefits, because of your personal beliefs, qualities, or classifications.

You cannot be discriminated against based upon your gender unless the employer can provide a specific reason why an individual of a particular gender may be unsuitable for the relevant work duties.

An employer cannot bar you from employment for your religious beliefs and practices, and must even accommodate them, unless it is determined that doing so would unduly harm the business.

Sexual and Other Harassment

All employees, male or female, have the right to go to work without having to endure sexual harassment. You are legally entitled to a safe and comfortable working environment.

Sexual harassment includes uninvited sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Employees may not have their employment affected by their refusal or submission to sexual conduct by a supervisor, co-worker, or non-employee.

Hostile conduct, whether because of sex, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other “protected classifications” can be considered hostile working environment harassment, and is illegal if it is unwelcome, severe and/or pervasive, and if it continues after the company knew or should have known of it.

If you are experiencing harassment at work, please contact us.   We are likely to suggest that you read your employer’s policy on sexual harassment and inform the appropriate people of your situation. If you cannot do this, or have questions about how to inform the appropriate people, please feel free to call us, either before or after complaining about the harassment.

Retaliation and Termination for Permissible Whistleblowing, Labor and Worker’s Compensation Claims, and Other Matters

All employees possess certain rights and can exercise them without retaliation from the employer, including some types of whistleblowing, filing a claim with the L & I or for workers’ comp, getting involved with a union and union activities, and complaining about certain injustices or illegal behavior. Certain occupations are ascribed their own retaliation protections.

Employers facing wrongful termination, discrimination, or retaliation claims will hardly ever admit fault, and instead will provide other, more acceptable reasons for the claimant’s termination, such as job incompetency or absenteeism—whether or not those reasons are actually true. Anyone who is fired is entitled to a detailed statement of the reasons for their termination. Employers must provide this statement within 10 business days after the request is made.