The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits discriminating in employment on the basis of sex (WA Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.010et seq.). The WLAD applies to employers of eight or more employees. According to the regulations issued by the Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC), discrimination against an employee or an applicant for employment because of pregnancy is a form of sex discrimination (WA Admin. Code Sec. 162-30-020). Therefore, employers may not discharge or refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant or may become pregnant in the future. Employers must treat a woman on pregnancy-related leave the same as other employees on leave for sickness or other temporary disabilities. This means that employers must provide the same disability leave benefits to women who are pregnant or have recently given birth as they provide to any other employee. This also means that disabilities related to pregnancy or childbirth cannot be excluded from an employer’s other leave or benefits policies.
Under the WLAD, a female employee is entitled to leave “for the period of time that she is sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy or childbirth.” Notice and certification requirements, pay, and benefits cannot differ from what the employer requires or provides for similar non-pregnancy-related leaves. WLAD leave for disability because of pregnancy or childbirth does not depend on the employee having available FLA leave and does not count against the employee’s FLA leave, if any.