Is workplace harassment unlawful?


Workplace harassment itself is not unlawful. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you based on a protected characteristic or activity (visit our Employment Discrimination page). However, if the harassment is not connected to a protected characteristic or activity, it is not unlawful. Similarly, if you report harassment to HR, you are not protected against retaliation. If you report discrimination based on a protected activity or characteristic, it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you. If you are experiencing discrimination based on your race, sex/gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or religion and you report "harassment" without mentioning the discriminatory element, you are not protected against retaliation.




Do I need to disclose my pregnancy or disability at a job interview?


No. In fact, you should not disclose a pregnancy or disability at your job interview. If you need accommodations, such as time off to attend doctor appointments, you should disclose the need for accommodations AFTER you receive a job offer. If the potential employer rescind's their offer after you disclose a disability or need for reasonable accommodation, they may have violated the law. If you do not need accommodations, you do not need to disclose your pregnancy or disability.




Should I bother to put in for intermittent Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave?


Yes. If you need periodic time off for doctor's appointments, to care for a sick family member, or for other medical reasons, you should request FMLA leave even if your employer is nice about the time you have to take off or you haven't had any issues yet. To be eligible for FMLA, you have to have worked for a least a year, worked at least 1250 hours in the last year, and your employer must employ 50 or more employees. If you put in for FMLA and it is approved, you are legally protected against having your absences, tardiness, or leaving early held against you. FMLA is strong protection for employees and you should use it if you need it.




If I am being discriminated against or sexually harassed, how should I mention it to a supervisor of HR?


Not before talking to me first. Time has shown HR officials will routinely back the highest ranking official in any dispute. They will consult, coach, and identify strategies to benefit the highest ranking official. So you need to consult and be coached by your own equal opportunity specialist. Lets talk about strategies to test the system and what you can say to improve your situation.




Should I quit my job?


No. Unless your physical safety is being thretened or your doctor has told you (in writing) that for the sake of your health you must quit your job, call us before you decide to quit your job. If you are experiencing discrimination or retaliation and you quit your job, the employer is off the hook and you have voluntarily given up any right to your legal claim.




What should I do if my question was not answered here?


Call us at (206) 447-1560 or fill out our Online Employment Law Questionnaire below.




Is it unlawful for my employer to fire me due to false accusations?


Not necessarily. Because Washington State law says that employment is "at-will," your employer can fire you at any time for a bad reason (a lie). If, however, your employer fires you using false accusations to cover up discrimination of a protected characteristic or activity (see our Employment Discrimination page), you may still have a claim.





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