Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

May 30, 2018

New domestic violence law expands protections in Washington

Harassment & DiscriminationHiringSafety and Health 

Washington has significantly revised its Domestic Violence Leave law to prohibit discrimination against applicants or employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The new law applies to all employers as of June 7, 2018, and prohibits employers from:

  • Refusing to hire an actual or perceived victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • Discharging, demoting, suspending, or otherwise discriminating or retaliating in the terms or conditions of employment against an actual or perceived victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  • Refusing to make a reasonable safety accommodation requested by a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, unless the employer can prove that doing so would impose an undue hardship.

Making Reasonable Safety Accommodations

Examples of reasonable safety accommodations include transferring to another job, reassigning work, modifying a work schedule, changing a work email address, changing a workstation, installing new locks, and implementing safety procedures. Employers may require verification of the employee’s need for a reasonable safety accommodation.

Leave of Absence

There is no change to an employer’s current obligation to provide a reasonable leave of absence to employees seeking assistance or treatment for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking of themselves or a family member.

Right to File a Civil Suit

Applicants and employees alleging discrimination under this revised law have the right to file a civil suit directly with the court for damages, attorneys’ fees, and other remedies (HB 2661, 2018 Wash Laws Chap 47).
 
Tips for Employers

Be sure to inform managers about this new protected category of employees and applicants, and review and revise employment policies and practices to ensure compliance. If an employee asks for protection from an abuser or stalker, supervisors should immediately involve human resources.

If you are a Vigilant member, your Vigilant employment attorney can advise you on legal requirements, helping you ensure compliance with this new domestic violence law. Your Vigilant safety professional can provide general guidance on workplace violence prevention, and can also offer referrals to a security consultant who specializes in this area.

For more information, see our newly revised Model Policy, “Crime Victim Protection and Leave Policies for California, Oregon, and Washington.”

Curious about Vigilant membership? Learn more about our flat fee employment law advice service.

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