Washington State provides strong protections against employment discrimination. However, even when an employee is fired for cause or an applicant is not hired for a valid reason, the employee or applicant may claim discrimination. A workplace discrimination lawsuit can cost a company time, money, and reputation in the community. 

Representing employers and Human Resources professionals in Washington, counseling and training can reduce the risk of future liability by stopping the appearance of discrimination before it occurs. Counseling from an employment discrimination attorney can also ensure managers and HR departments respond properly to reports of discrimination and act to protect the company's interests. 

If a claim of discrimination is filed, an experienced employment discrimination attorney will respond to the claim, represent the company during any investigations, and protect the company by building a strong legal defense.   

Protected Classes of Employees

Both federal and state laws provide employees and potential workers with protections against unlawful discrimination. Washington provides broader protections against workplace discrimination by protecting additional classes that are not covered under federal law. Unlawful discrimination in employment includes: 

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion/Creed
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy/Maternity
  • Citizenship Status
  • Age (over 40)
  • Marital Status
  • Veterans/Military Service
  • Use of a Service Animal
  • Disability
  • Gender Identity
  • Genetics
  • Sexual Orientation
  • HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C Status

Filing a Claim for Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace is not limited to hiring and firing an employee because of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Discrimination can affect all aspects of employment, including: 

  • Refusing training programs, 
  • Reduced salary,
  • Reduced hours,
  • Denying a promotion, 
  • Cancel or deny benefits, or
  • Constructive termination. 

An employee or applicant may file a claim for unlawful discrimination through the Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC) or through the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). There is a limited time to file a complaint with the WSHRC. In most cases, a claim of discrimination in employment must be filed within 6 months from the date of the alleged violation. 

Employer Liability for Employee Discrimination 

Even if the owners are not engaged in discrimination, the company may still be liable for discrimination based on the actions of employees. If the employer knew about or should have known about the discrimination and failed to take the necessary steps to address the issue, the employer may be liable for the discrimination. 

Up-To-Date to Employment Laws  

Through legislative updates, new laws, and court cases, the laws and regulations surrounding employment discrimination in Washington State, Seattle, and other cities are always changing. An experienced employment law attorney will be able to provide businesses and HR departments with the important changes to help the company stay compliant and reduce the risk of liability based on claims of employment discrimination. 

Responding to HRC Investigations and EEOC Complaints 

Our law firm offers one-on-one employment law consulting, human resources audits, handbook and policy reviews, and legal representation for Human Resources Professionals and Business Owners. We help our clients prepare in addressing discrimination complaints, respond to discrimination and harassment investigations, and provide legal representation in civil employment discrimination claims.

If you are a Washington business owner, HR professional, or manager, contact me for any questions or issues related to employment law and employment discrimination. Contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers today for a free consultation.