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EEO - Discrimination: Washington

EEO - Discrimination requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Valarie S. Zeeck, Gordon Thomas Honeywell LLP


  • The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) is broader and more favorable to employees than federal anti-discrimination laws. See The Washington Law Against Discrimination.
  • The WLAD prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, age, sensory, physical or mental disability, membership in the military or status as a veteran, HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C status or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal. See The Washington Law Against Discrimination.
  • The WLAD applies to all employers (public and private) with eight or more employees, except nonprofit religious organizations and those individuals who are employed by a parent, spouse, or children. See Covered Employers.
  • Claims of discrimination may be made under a disparate treatment, disparate impact or harassment theories. See Discrimination Claims under the WLAD.
  • Washington courts generally use the McDonnell-Douglas burden shifting analysis to consider claims of discrimination. Discrimination Claims under the WLAD.
  • As a general rule, Washington employees may but are not required to file a complaint with federal, state or local equal employment or human rights commissions (or equivalent) before filing suit. Any such claim should be filed within 6 months of the date the alleged discriminatory act occurred. See Administrative Process and Judicial Proceedings.
  • Localities including Seattle and Spokane have requirements pertaining to discrimination. See Local Requirements.