Discriminatory Promotion Claims


I think I did not get the promotion because I'm a woman, how do I prove it?


To prove this you must show that:
1) you are in a protected class (women);
2) you applied and were qualified for an available promotion;
3) you were not offered the position; and
4) there is an inference of discrimination; for example, if the job went to a less qualified male.


Must I show that I took proactive steps to get the promotion, and that I was qualified?


You do not necessarily have to show that you took proactive steps to get a promotion. In some cases where sex discrimination has been found to occur, the female employee was passed over for a promotion without her knowledge, and men were sought out for supervisory positions in her department without her being contacted.


Must I show that my employer sought a replacement with similar qualifications?


No, this is not a necessary piece of evidence but you should have some form of evidence supporting your claim. However, if this is true in your situation, it may serve as strong evidence for your case.


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 promoted 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 cause of the denied promotion was sex discrimination. You must show that gender was a "substantial factor" in denying you the promotion.


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 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 have been fired because of sex discrimination, you may have a legitimate cause of action for the common-law tort of wrongful discharge even if your employer has less than eight (8) employees.


If I prove my wrongful denial of promotion 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.



Return to Types of Discrimination


Return to Washington Law Page


Legal Glossary


Return to States