Washington Sex Discrimination laws & HR compliance analysis

Washington Sex Discrimination: What you need to know

The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on sex, marital status, or sexual orientation (including gender identity) (WA Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.180). Sexual orientation means heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression or identity. As used in this definition, "gender expression or identity" means a person's actual or perceived gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that differs from traits traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth (WA Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.040). According to the regulations issued by the Washington Human Rights Commission, discrimination against an employee or an applicant for employment because of pregnancy or childbirth is a form of sex discrimination (WA Admin. Code Sec. 162-30-020). The WLAD covers employers with eight or more employees (WA Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.010 et seq.). State agencies are also covered separately by an executive order.
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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of an electrician who claimed her former employer treated her less favorably than similarly situated male employees in violation of federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Davis v. Team Elec. Co., 520 F.3d 1080 (9th Cir. 2008)). In this case, the employee provided evidence that the employer gave her a disproportionate amount of dangerous and strenuous work, excluded her from meetings that male coworkers attended, and failed to respond to her radio communications. The employer subsequently terminated her employment even though it retained male electricians with less seniority. The court ruled that the evidence was ...

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