Washington State Sexual Harassment Law and Training Requirements

Category: Info
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 06-15-2018 02:19 AM
Views: 2013
Synopsis: Washington's sexual harassment laws have long been some of the nations most protective of employees, so it should be no surprise that Washington was the first state to ban pre-employment agreements that prohibit employees from discussing sexual harassment that occurred in their workplace and agreements that deny the right to file a complaint publicly.  We listed all of the differences between Washington and federal law in one place.

On June 7th, 2018 several new sexual harassment laws went into effect that solidified Washington as a leader in the country for sexual harassment prevention.


SB5996 and SB6313 took aim at pre-employment agreements.


  • SB5996 bans non-disclosure agreements that are a condition of employment and prevent disclosure of sexual harassment and sexual assault that occurs in the workplace or at work-related activities or events.  Confidentiality agreements that are part of a legal settlement are still legal.
  • SB6313 makes illegal to make employees sign away their rights regarding sexual harassment.  Any agreement that bars an employee from filing a complaint with the Washington Human Rights Commission, EEOC, or any other appropriate state or federal agency is now illegal.  This law makes pre-employment agreements that require employees to settle sexual harassment claims in a confidential dispute resolution process illegal.
  • Washington also passed a law came into effect June 7, 2018, that requires the Washington Human Rights Commission to create and publish model sexual harassment policies and best practices to prevent sexual harassment.


Like every state, most of the law in Washington was derived from federal law and even with the additions Washington has made, the law is still mostly identical to its federal counterpart.  The Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits sexual harassment in the state and even before the recent legal additions, Washington was already considered one of the most progressive states in its harassment prevention strategies.  Despite, the similarities, the WLAD has broader coverage than federal law.


Aspects of Washington law that differs from federal law.


  • Washington law applies to employers with 8 or more employees. (Federal law applies to organizations with 15 or more employees.)
  • The state of Washington extends independent contractors the same protection as employees.  (Federal law does not protect independent contractors)
  • The state of Washington includes unpaid interns in their protections. (Federal law only applies to unpaid interns if they receive substantial compensation from benefits like pension and insurance.
  • Washington law allows supervisors to be held personally responsible in court for harassment.  (Federal law only allows employers to be named in court.)
  • Washington law protects all public and private employees in the state from harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity with an exemption for religious organizations. (The EEOC protects LGBT employees through its interpretation of sex discrimination in Title VII, however federal law does not specifically name sexual orientation and gender identity as protected groups.)
  • Washington mandates sexual harassment training for all state government employees by executive order and requires contractors who do business with the state to conduct training as well.
  • Employees in Washington can file sexual harassment claims with the Washington Human Rights Commission or the EEOC.


While Washington doesn’t explicitly mandate sexual harassment training, training is encouraged and listed as a vital part of harassment prevention.  The EEOC lists training as one of its five core principles of sexual harassment prevention.  Organizations who conduct training not only prevent more harassment, they may avoid liability or limit damages in a hostile environment harassment lawsuit.


Trainingabc's video-based training courses - Sexual Harassment Prevention Made Simple and Sexual Harassment Prevention Made Simple for Managers will train your employees on the most important aspects of Washington and Federal law.

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