Discriminatory Hiring Claims


I think I wasn't hired because I'm a woman, how do I prove it?


To prove a claim of discriminatory hiring you must show that:
1) you are a member of a protected class (i.e. a woman);
2) you were barred from a position for which you were qualified; and
3) the employer hired a person from outside the protected class.


The interviewer asked me some very personal questions. Is that legal?


Not all personal questions are illegal but it is in the employer's best interest to avoid asking questions such as if you plan to raise a family or if you call yourself Miss or Mrs. The basic practice that most employers follow is to only ask questions related to job skills and requirements. An employer who asks more personal questions increases the risk that someone may claim discriminatory hiring practices.


The interviewer stated that his customers would prefer to see a man to do this job rather than a woman. Is this a legal reason not to hire me?


No. The only time gender may be a qualification is when it is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). A BFOQ legitimately exists when your employer can show "that all or substantially all women would be unable to perform safely and efficiently the duties involved." For example, a BFOQ may apply where it is necessary for the purpose of authenticity (e.g., model, actor, actress) or maintaining conventional standards of sexual privacy (e.g., locker room attendant, intimate apparel fitter).


Must I prove that I didn't get the job because of my sex, and not my qualifications? If so how?


Yes. To prove discrimination directly, you must provide direct evidence you're your employer acted with discriminatory motive and that discriminatory motivation was significant or substantial factor in employment decision; once these factors are established, your employer must show, that more likely than not, that the same decision would have been reached absent discriminatory factor.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to their denials?


If you've established an initial presumption of discrimination your employer will have an opportunity to demonstrate that you were not hired for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons. Ultimately, you must present evidence to convince the court or the jury that the given reasons are really pretext and that the true reason you were not hired was because of sex discrimination. You must show that gender was a "substantial factor" in not hiring you.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


Washington enforces a very strict time limit on when a claim of sex discrimination can be filed. You must file your complaint with the Commission within six (6) months of the date of your employer's discriminatory conduct. Under federal law, however, you have three hundred (300) days to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you choose to sue in the courts with a private attorney you have roughly three (3) years to file the claim; however, the sooner you talk to someone at the state or federal agency or a private attorney the better.


What options do I have if I my employer has fewer than 8 employees?


Unfortunately, under Washington law, if your employer has fewer than eight (8) employees, your legal options are severely limited. Employers with fewer than eight (8) employees are exempt from the WLAD. The Washington Supreme Court, however, found that the state has established a clear public policy against discrimination based on sex in both statute and judicial opinions. As a result, if you believe that you were denied employment because of sex discrimination, you may be able to sue your employer in court even if your employer has less than eight (8) employees.


If I prove my hiring discrimination claim, what kind of remedies am I entitled to?


You may be entitled to injunctive relief or monetary damages. For more information, please see Remedies.



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