Unlawful Retaliation: The Prima Facie Case

Unlawful Retaliation: The Prima Facie Case


Under Washington Law Against Discrimination, how does one establish a prima facie case of unlawful retaliation? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding). 


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WASHINGTON LAW AGAINST DISCRIMINATION: UNLAWFUL RETALIATION

"[Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD)] … proscribes discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics." Cornwell v. Microsoft Corporation, 430 P.3d 229, 233, 234 (Wash. 2018) (citing RCW 49.60.030) (hyperlinks added).

"WLAD also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose discriminatory practices." Id. (citing RCW 49.60.210(1)) (hyperlinks added).

MCDONNELL DOUGLAS EVIDENTIARY BURDEN-SHIFTING FRAMEWORK

"Ordinarily the prima facie case [of unlawful retaliation] must, in the nature of things, be shown by circumstantial evidence, since the employer is not apt to announce retaliation as his motive." Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted) (hyperlink added). 

Accordingly, "[w]hen evaluating the merits of cases brought under [Washington Law Against Discrimination] … [the courts] employ the McDonnell Douglas 'evidentiary burden-shifting' framework." Id. (citing Mikkelsen v. Public Utility District, 189 Wn.2d 516, 526, 404 P.3d 464 (2017)) (internal footnote and citation omitted) (hyperlink added).

THE PRIMA FACIE CASE: UNLAWFUL RETALIATION

"To establish a prima facie case of retaliation [using the McDonnell Douglas 'evidentiary burden-shifting' framework] an employee must show three things:

(1) the employee took a statutorily protected action, 

(2) the employee suffered an adverse employment action, and 

(3) a causal link between the employee's protected activity and the adverse employment action.

Id. (citing Currier v. Northland Servs., Inc., 182 Wn.App. 733, 742, 332 P.3d 1006 (2014); see also Wilmot v. Kaiser Alum. & Chem. Corp, 118 Wn.2d 46, 68, 821 P.2d 18 (1991) ("establishing the retaliation test in the worker's compensation context")) (emphasis, paragraphs, and hyperlinks added).

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.

–gw

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