Unlawful Retaliation: Statutorily Protected Action

Unlawful Retaliation: Statutorily Protected Action

Under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), what is "statutorily protected action," when pursuing a claim of unlawful retaliation against an employer? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).


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UNLAWFUL RETALIATION: STAUTORILY PROTECTED ACTION

Under the first element of a prima facie case of unlawful retaliation, plaintiff-employees must show they took "statutorily protected action." To determine the meaning of this term, one must turn to the WLAD; the relevant section states as follows:

Unfair practices—Discrimination against person opposing unfair practice—Retaliation against whistleblower.

(1) It is an unfair practice for any employer, employment agency, labor union, or other person to discharge, expel, or otherwise discriminate against any person because he or she has opposed any practices forbidden by this chapter, or because he or she has filed a charge, testified, or assisted in any proceeding under this chapter.

(2) It is an unfair practice for a government agency or government manager or supervisor to retaliate against a whistleblower as defined in chapter 42.40 RCW.

(3) It is an unfair practice for any employer, employment agency, labor union, government agency, government manager, or government supervisor to discharge, expel, discriminate, or otherwise retaliate against an individual assisting with an office of fraud and accountability investigation under RCW 74.04.012, unless the individual has willfully disregarded the truth in providing information to the office.

RCW 49.60.210 (emphasis and some hyperlinks added). Thus, according to section (1), above, "statutorily protected action" essentially means opposing any practice forbidden by WLAD, or filing a charge, testifying, or assisting in any proceeding under the WLAD. 

Although there are a variety of ways to satisfy this requirement, the most common is by properly wording and submitting a WLAD-based employment discrimination complaint to the employer. IMPORTANT: However, one should always seek counsel from a licensed WA State Employment Discrimination Attorney before taking such actions, because, inter alia, there are very serious risks involved (please see our DISCLAIMER).

CONCLUSION

To establish a prima facie case of unlawful retaliation under WLAD, plaintiff-employees must first show that they took "statutorily protected action." In other words, they must show they (1) opposed practices forbidden by the WLAD, and/or (2) filed a charge, testified, or assisted in any proceeding under the WLAD. 

READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC

We invite you to read our article: Unlawful Retaliation: The Prima Facie Case

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; please see our DISCLAIMER.

–gw

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