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Sunday, October 7, 2018

FREE Legal Forms: AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA


   
by Gregory Williams, Esq. |  What are some free resources for reliable and trusted legal forms in Washington State, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho and Oregon? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding). 

WASHINGTON STATE
FREE Washington State Legal Forms is a website designed, developed, and maintained by Attorney Gregory Williams. It both provides free access to trusted legal forms and offers reliability reviews for each source website.

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ALASKA, CALIFORNIA, HAWAII, IDAHO, & OREGON

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PLEASE NOTE

The information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.

WLAD Magic: Front & Back Pay Without Proving Unlawful Discharge

by Gregory Williams, Esq. | Under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), may plaintiffs recover front and back pay for successful discrimination claims without proving actual or constructive discharge in violation of WLAD, when these damages are proximately caused by unlawful discrimination? Here’s my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).


WASHINGTON LAW AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

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 (40+); sex (including pregnancy); marital statussexual orientation (including gender identity); race; color; creednational originhonorably discharged veteran or military statusHIV/AIDS and hepatitis C status; 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; and state employee or health care whistleblower status. See RCW 49.60.230; RCW 42.40. It is also an unfair practice for an employer to retaliate against an employee because the employee complained about job discrimination or assisted with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The relevant WLAD provisions are as follows:
It is an unfair practice for any employer:
... 
(2) To DISCHARGE or bar any person from employment because of age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, 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.
(3) To DISCRIMINATE against any person in compensation or in other terms or conditions of employment because of age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, 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: PROVIDED, That it shall not be an unfair practice for an employer to segregate washrooms or locker facilities on the basis of sex, or to base other terms and conditions of employment on the sex of employees where the commission by regulation or ruling in a particular instance has found the employment practice to be appropriate for the practical realization of equality of opportunity between the sexes.
... 
RCW 49.60.230 (hereinafter, "statute") (emphasis added). Pursuant to these unfair practices, "[a] wrongful act of discrimination under the statute does not necessarily lead to discharge of the employee, but it is possible that discharge or constructive discharge can result from such an act." Martini v. The Boeing Company, 137 Wn.2d 357, 366 (Wash. 1999).


DISTINCTION BETWEEN DISCRIMINATION & DISCHARGE

Discharge and discrimination are separate causes of action. "[S]ince ... [WLAD] ... deals separately with unlawful discrimination against an employee and unlawful discharge of an employee, it is clear that each of these acts amounts to a different violation of the law against discrimination and gives rise to a separate cause of action under the statute. This would be true even if the claim for discrimination and the claim for discharge arose from the employer's same act." Id. at 366 (emphasis added).


THE REMEDIES PROVISION

The remedies for all causes of action under WLAD originate from the same source -- RCW 49.60.030(2) (hereinafter, "Remedies Provision"). Accordingly, "the law against discrimination expressly provides:
Any person deeming himself or herself injured by any act in violation of this chapter shall have a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin further violations, or to recover the actual damages sustained by the person, or both, together with the cost of suit including reasonable attorneys' fees or any other appropriate remedy authorized by this chapter or the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964...."
Id. at 366-67 (citing RCW 49.60.030(2)) (emphasis added).

WLAD "does not in any way limit the type of compensation that can be claimed for discrimination violating RCW 49.60.180(3) [(unlawful discrimination)], but the usual rules which govern the elements of damage for which compensation may be awarded apply." Id. at 368 (internal citations omitted).


ALL WLAD REMEDIES AVAILABLE FOR DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS

The Remedies Provision "provides a person who has been discriminated against in violation of RCW 49.60.180(3)[--the discrimination provision--]with a remedy for full compensatory damages, excluding only nominal, exemplary or punitive damages." Id. at 368 (hyperlink added). "[T]here is nothing in the plain language of the statute which conditions an award of damages for front or back pay for a violation of RCW 49.60.180(3) upon a separate and successful claim for wrongful discharge under RCW 49.60.180(2)." Id. at 368 (hyperlink added).


EXAMPLE: MARTINI v. BOEING

In Martini v. Boeing, the plaintiff-employee (Martini) resigned from Boeing based on disability discrimination. He tried to find work, but was unsuccessful. Martini then sued Boeing for damages based on both disability discrimination and constructive discharge in violation of WLAD; and he sought reinstatement.

The trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Boeing: it dismissed his separate constructive discharge claim. The jury awarded Martini the following damages for Boeing's disability discrimination and entered judgment on the jury verdict: lost earnings ($205,356), lost future earnings ($480,932), pain, suffering, and emotional distress ($75,000), and past and future medical expenses ($15,000).

Boeing appealed arguing, inter alia, that because Martini was not constructively discharged, he was not entitled to seek damages for front and back pay. But the Court of Appeals rejected Boeing's argument and affirmed the award of front and back pay. Boeing then petitioned the Washington State Supreme Court and the petition was granted.

--Supreme Court Finds Back Pay Okay

The WA Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, finding, inter alia, that Washington case law "supports the proposition that back pay may be awarded for a discriminatory act in violation of RCW 49.60.180(3) [(unlawful discrimination)] even if there is no finding of constructive discharge, so long as the damages were proximately caused by the wrongful act." Id. at 378. (hyperlink and emphasis added).

--Supreme Court Finds Front Pay Okay

The Court also found that "a plaintiff with a successful discrimination claim under RCW 49.60.180(3) may recover front ... pay as part of his damages, if he establishes the same was proximately caused by an unlawful discrimination." It is not essential that the plaintiff prove constructive discharge in a separate cause of action. Martini, 137 Wn.2d 357.


CONCLUSION

WLAD permits recovery of front and back pay for a successful discrimination claim (absent proof of unlawful actual or constructive discharge -- RCW 49.60.230 (2)) when such damages are proximately caused by unlawful discrimination.


LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Employment Discrimination Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.