WLAD: Hostile Work Environment

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Gregory A. Williams, Esq.

Williams Law Group, P.S.

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by Gregory Williams, Esq. | Under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), RCW Chapter 49.60, it is illegal for an http://gawlaw.org/blog/wlad-definition-employer/employer to discriminate based on protected classes in employment.


Protected Classes relating to employment discrimination include race or color; national origin; creed; sex or pregnancy; sexual orientation or gender identity; veteran or military status; presence of any sensory, mental, or physical actual disability or perceived disability; use of a service animal; HIV or hepatitis C; marital status; and age.  Importantly, WLAD defines an employer as any person acting in the interest of an employer, directly or indirectly, who employs eight or more persons, and does not include any religious or sectarian organization not organized for private profit.


WLAD provides specific protections for employees against a hostile work environment. Specifically, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any person in compensation or in other terms or conditions of employment because of a Protected Class.


Generally, to establish a prima facie claim of hostile work environment against an employer, the employee must produce competent evidence of each of the following four elements: (1) that the harassment was offensive and unwelcome; (2) that it occurred because of the employee’s membership in a protected class; (3) that it affected the terms and conditions of employment/membership; and (4) that the harassment can be imputed to the employerSee Glasgow v. Georgia Pacific Corp., 103 Wn.2d 401, 406 (Wash. 1985).

For a claim of disability based hostile work environment, the plaintiff must initially prove that he or she was disabled within the meaning of the WLAD in addition to the four elements above. Robel v. Roundup Corporation, 148 Wn.2d 35, 45, 59 P.3d 611 (Wash. 2002).

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If you believe that you’ve been a victim of a hostile work environment and 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.