Are Your Employment Rights Being Violated in Washington?


Time is extremely limited when it comes to taking legal action regarding employment discrimination claims!

In general, as per the Federal anti-discrimination laws, you need to file a charge within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place.  Holidays and weekends are included in the calculation, although if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, you will have until the next business day.  If you don’t file within 180 days, you will have no case.  Don’t waste another day!  Contact us TODAY to get connected with a Washington Employment lawyer specializing in Labor and Employment law!


The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis.  These agencies are usually called Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA).

Specific to Washington:

In the State of Washington, an individual has 300 days from the date of alleged harm to file a charge with the EEOC against an employer with 15 or more employees for discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and/or disability. An individual also has 300 days from the date of alleged harm to file a charge with the EEOC against an employer with 20 or more employees for discrimination based on age in Washington.

Charges against employers of less than 15 employees (for race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and/or disability) or less than 20 employees (for age) must be filed with the appropriate state or local agency within the time limits prescribed by state or local laws. In the State of Washington, these time limits are 180 days to file with the Washington State Human Rights Commission; and within the City of Seattle or the City of Tacoma, 180 days to file either the Seattle Office for Civil Rights or the Tacoma Human Rights and Human Services Department, respectively.

Federal vs. State and Local Laws

In most cases, State and Local governments do not have separate laws or statutes regarding discrimination and harassment, but instead rely on Federal law. Some State and Local governments also have additional laws on discrimination regarding types and sizes of employers that are accountable and types of discrimination and harassment that are illegal. However, this does not mean you need a “Federal” lawyer. Our Washington lawyers are able to represent you under these Federal laws.  Contact us today to be connected with an attorney who knows all the ins and outs of Labor and Employment Law in Washington who can manage your case.  As you can see, this is a very complicated process and obtaining legal assistance from an experienced attorney is the best way to go right from the start.

Has Any of This Happened to YOU?

The Federal illegal types of discrimination committed by employers against employees when hiring, on the job, promoting, and terminating are below.  If more than one person is discriminated against or harassed in the same way by the same employer, a Class Action Lawsuit can also be considered (see our next section on Class Action Lawsuits).

Age Discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) less favorably because of his age. The Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids discrimination against individuals who are age 40 or over. It is also unlawful to harass a person because of his or her age.

Disability Discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because s/he has a disability.

Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination.  The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal.

Genetic Information Discrimination.  Under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits genetic information discrimination in employment, it is illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.

Harassment.  Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

National Origin Discrimination.  The law forbids discrimination regarding national origin when it comes to any aspect of employment. It is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her national origin.

Pregnancy Discrimination.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment.

Race and Color Discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Color discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion.

Religious Discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs.

Retaliation. It is illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise “retaliate” against people (applicants or employees) because they filed a charge of discrimination, because they complained to their employer or other covered entity about discrimination on the job, or because they participated in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit).

Sex (Gender) Discrimination in violation of Title VII involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person’s sex, if that person is transgender (gender identity discrimination), lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Our experienced Washington lawyers specializing in Labor and Employment Law would be happy to help you explore your options and, most importantly, take the right actions to prove YOUR case. Contact us today!

Discrimination Laws Specific to Washington

These Types of Employers:  public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations

Discrimination Prohibited Based On:  race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, mental or physical disability (including AIDS), military status, marital status, retaliation, lie detector test-except for employment with law enforcement agencies or manufacturers or distributors of controlled substances, or employment in sensitive positions involving national security, use of guide or service animal, credit information


Employers must obey state laws regarding the following:  equal pay, minimum wage, minimum overtime wage, meals and rest breaks, final paycheck, paying accrued vacation time or PTO (Paid Time Off) at severance of employment, and sick time.  If your employer has violated any of these laws and it’s just you, you should contact your state Department of Labor and make a complaint.  You should also contact us to find a Labor and Employment lawyer because if s/he takes your case, they can demand that the Employer turn over all pertinent employee records to see if other employees are being treated unfairly too. If this is found, the lawyer can request trying the case as a Class Action lawsuit with you as the primary plaintiff. If you already KNOW that your employer treats other employees this way too, definitely contact us to speak with a Washington Labor and Employment attorney!

Here are the standards for Washington:

Equal Pay for Equal Work:  Employers cannot discriminate between sexes in the payment of wages or pay any female less than wages paid to males similarly employed.  A good faith wage differentials based on factors other than sex is not discrimination.

Aggrieved female employees can due their employers for the lost additional pay they would have received had there been no discrimination. (RCWA §§ 49.12.170 & 49.12.175)

Minimum Wage:  $9.47

Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees:  $9.32 (see below)

Washington Under 20 Minimum Wage – $4.25 – Federal law allows any employer in Washington to pay a new employee who is under 20 years of age a training wage of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment.

Washington Student Minimum Wage – $8.05 – Full-time high school or college students who work part-time may be paid 85% of the Washington minimum wage (as little as $8.05 per hour) for up to 20 hours of work at certain employers.

Washington Tipped Minimum Wage – $9.32 – Employees who earn a certain amount of tips every month may be paid a special cash minimum wage, but must earn at least $9.47 including tips every hour.

Additional Information on Minimum Wage:  Washington has the highest state minimum wage in the United States. The Washington minimum wage has been adjusted every year since 2001 based on a cost of living index (the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W).

Employees under 16 years old can be paid 85% of the Washington minimum wage, currently $7.92 per hour.

Minimum Overtime Wage:  $14.21.  This figure is based on the minimum wage. If you earn more than the minimum wage, you must be paid at least 1.5 times your regular hourly wage for overtime. If you are paid on a salary basis, not on an hourly basis, your employer must break down your annual salary into the hourly rate it equals and pay you at least 1.5 times that figure for overtime.  (Exception:  if you are an Exempt employee rather than a Non-Exempt employee, you are not eligible for overtime.)

Overtime Begins:  There is no daily overtime limit.  Weekly overtime is after 40 hours in a single week.

Additional Information on Overtime:  Overtime pay not applicable to employees who request compensating time off in lieu of overtime pay.

Meal and Rest Breaks:

Meal Breaks:  In Washington, employees who will work more than five consecutive hours are entitled to a 30-minute meal break, not less than two hours nor more than five hours from the beginning of their shifts. This time must be paid if the employee is on duty or is required to be at a site for the employer’s benefit. Otherwise, the break may be unpaid.

Employees who work three or more hours longer than their regular workday are entitled to an additional 30-minute break, before or during their overtime.

Slightly different rules apply to agricultural employees. These employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break if working more than five hours, and an additional 30-minute break if working 11 or more hours in one day.

Rest Breaks:  In addition to meal breaks, Washington employees are entitled to paid rest breaks. Employees must be allowed a paid ten-minute rest break for each four-hour work period, scheduled as near to the midpoint of the work period as possible. Employees cannot be required to work more than three hours without a rest break.

Scheduled rest breaks are not required if the nature of the work allows employees to take intermittent rest breaks equivalent to the required standard.

Final Paycheck Deadline(s):

If employee is fired:  End of next pay period.

If employee quits:  End of next pay period. (Wash. Rev. Code § 49.48.010)

Accrued Vacation Pay at Time of Severance From Employment:  No statute.  (It is a good idea to KEEP Company Handbooks, Job Offer Letter, and any other written or emailed references to accrued vacation pay in case you need these documents for proof upon termination.)

Paid/Unpaid Sick Time:  Washington has no state statute. However, Seattle and Tacoma have their own municipal level sick time laws.


If you are the victim of discrimination or any of the above violations of employment law has affected you and your coworkers, contact us to be connected with a Labor and Employment attorney near you in Washington today!


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