WLAD: HIV or Hepatitis C Infection

Gregory A. Williams, Esq.

Attorney-Owner at Williams Law Group
Admissions: U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Federal Claims; U.S. District Court Western Dist of WA; all WA State Courts.

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By Gregory Williams, Esq. | Under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), do individuals suffering from HIV or hepatitis C infection fall within a protected class? Here’s my point of view (please review our Disclaimer, Terms of Use & Privacy Notice before proceeding).


Under WLAD, it is an unfair practice, with very few exceptions, for an employer to refuse to hire any person, to discharge or bar any person from employment, or to discriminate against any person in compensation or in other terms and conditions of employment because of age; sex; marital status; sexual orientation; race; creed; color; national origin; honorably discharged veteran or military status, HIV or Hepatitis C infection; or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.


Pursuant to the WLAD, the following acts, inter alia, are considered unfair practices:

(1) No person may require an individual to take an HIV test, as defined in chapter 70.24 RCW, or hepatitis C test, as a condition of hiring, promotion, or continued employment unless the absence of HIV or hepatitis C infection is a bona fide occupational qualification for the job in question.

(2) No person may discharge or fail or refuse to hire any individual, or segregate or classify any individual in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive that individual of employment opportunities or adversely affect his or her status as an employee, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of the results of an HIV test or hepatitis C test unless the absence of HIV or hepatitis C infection is a bona fide occupational qualification of the job in question.

(3) The absence of HIV or hepatitis C infection as a bona fide occupational qualification exists when performance of a particular job can be shown to present a significant risk, as defined by the board of health by rule, of transmitting HIV or hepatitis C infection to other persons, and there exists no means of eliminating the risk by restructuring the job.

(4) For the purpose of this chapter, any person who is actually infected with HIV or hepatitis C, but is not disabled as a result of the infection, shall not be eligible for any benefits under the affirmative action provisions of chapter 49.74 RCW solely on the basis of such infection.

(5) Employers are immune from civil action for damages arising out of transmission of HIV or hepatitis C to employees or to members of the public unless such transmission occurs as a result of the employer‘s gross negligence.

RCW 49.60.172.


Thus, it appears that individuals suffering from HIV or hepatitis C infections fall within a protected class under the Washington Law Against Discrimination.


If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced employment discrimination attorney to discuss your case as soon as possible. This article is not offered as legal advice and will not establish an attorney-client relationship with Williams Law Group, Law Office of Gregory A. Williams, P.S., Inc., or the author of this article. Please read our Disclaimer, Terms of Use & Privacy notice.