Washington ADA laws & safety compliance analysis

Washington ADA: What you need to know

Comparison: State vs. Federal

The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of any sensory, mental, or physical disability. The law covers employers with eight or more employees, including the state and its political subdivisions (WA Rev. Stat. Sec. 49.60.010 et seq.).

State Requirements
'Disability' Defined
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"Disability" defined. The WLAD defines "disability" as a sensory, mental, or physical impairment that:

  • Is medically cognizable or diagnosable;
  • Exists as a record or history; or
  • Is perceived to exist, whether or not it actually exists (WA Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.040).

The scope of the law's definition is much broader than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the WLAD, a disability may be temporary or permanent, common or uncommon, or mitigated or unmitigated. In addition, a disability exists whether or not it limits the ability of an individual to work in general, to work at a particular job, or whether or not it limits any other activity within the scope of the WLAD.

The ADA. Under the ADA, a person is regarded as having an ADA disability if he or she is subjected to an adverse employment action because of an actual or perceived impairment. The impairment is not required to substantially limit a major life activity in order to meet the definition of a “regarded as” disability. An impairment is not a regarded as disability if it is both transitory (an expected duration of less than 6 months) and minor.

"Impairment" defined. Under the WLAD, an "impairment" is defined as:

  • Any physiological disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems
  • Any mental, developmental, traumatic, or psychological ...

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