Washington Religious Discrimination laws & HR compliance analysis

Washington Religious Discrimination: What you need to know

The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits all public employers and private employers with eight or more employees from discriminating against applicants or employees on the basis of creed (WA Rev. Stat. Sec. 49.60.010 et seq.). Under the WLAD, it is an unfair practice for any employer to:
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• Refuse to hire any person because of creed, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ)
• Discriminate against any person in compensation or in other terms or conditions of employment because of creed
• Print, or circulate any statement, advertisement, or publication or to use any form of application for employment that expresses any limitation, specification, or discrimination as to creed, unless based upon a BFOQ
• Make any inquiry in connection with prospective employment that expresses any limitation, specification, or discrimination as to creed, unless based upon a BFOQ
• Discharge or otherwise discriminate against any person because he or she has opposed any practices forbidden by the WLAD or because he or she has filed a charge, testified, or assisted in any proceeding under the WLAD
• Aid, encourage, or incite the commission of any unfair practice, or to attempt to obstruct or prevent any other person from complying with the provisions of the WLAD
BFOQ. It is permissible to hire an individual on the basis of creed because of a BFOQ reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer's business (e.g., hiring a Jewish rabbi to oversee the preparation of kosher food). The BFOQ exception applies in only limited circumstances, and employers should use caution in relying on such a rationale when making employment decisions that have a disproportionate ...

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