Fighting Workplace Discrimination Based On Citizenship, Immigration Status And National Origin
Immigration has historically been a contentious issue in the United States, but anti-immigrant sentiment has become especially acerbic in recent years. While the debate often centers on undocumented immigrants, many Americans express distrust or contempt toward anyone they view as “foreign” or “other.”
This cultural shift has created real problems for nearly all immigrants to the United States, including discrimination and harassment in the workplace. If you are living and working in Washington and have faced discrimination due to your national origin or your status as an immigrant, Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC in Seattle is ready to help you claim your rights and protections.
State Legislature Expands Protection For Immigrants
In June 2020, an amendment to the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) went into effect. It created two new protected classes, citizenship and immigration status, and prohibited discrimination based on those protected characteristics.
Naturally, many who will be impacted by this law are also likely to be impacted by protections against national origin discrimination, which was already a protected class. With the changes in the WLAD, Washington employers are prohibited from:
- Making hiring or promotion decisions based on national origin/citizenship/immigration status
- Making firing, layoff or demotion decisions based on national origin/citizenship/immigration status
- Basing pay, bonuses or other compensation criteria on national origin/citizenship/immigration status
- Taking any adverse employment actions against an employee or group of employees based on national origin/citizenship/immigration status
There are some important exceptions to these prohibitions. The primary exception is that anyone working in the United States must be eligible to work in the U.S. If an employee or potential hire cannot provide documents that confirm work eligibility or if those documents cannot be verified, employers cannot hire them (or keep them on if they have already been hired).
The other exception is for jobs that can only be offered to U.S. citizens. These are often either government jobs or jobs with government contracts (such as those that require work with the military or require employees to obtain security clearance.
Immigrants Are An Important Part Of Washington’s Population And Workforce
Over a million state residents, or one in every seven Washington residents, is an immigrant. Some are U.S. citizens; many are not. But together, they make up 17 percent of the labor force in Washington. These added protections to the WLAD were much needed and will hopefully create much more inclusive workplaces. At the very least, they will give immigrants important legal protections against workplace discrimination.
Contact Us To Discuss Your Legal Options
Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC is based in Seattle, and we serve employees throughout Washington. To discuss your case and your legal options with attorneys who truly care about your rights and your wellbeing, call us at 206-536-2338 or send us an email.