What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Washington State?

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Washington State?

At times, when an employee lodges a complaint against their company, the company may retaliate.

Such complaints could range from experiences of discrimination, and claims for workers’ compensation due to work-related injuries.

Leading to blowing the whistle on illegal or unethical practices witnessed within the company.

Retaliating against an employee for any of these actions is against the law.

Retaliation can take various forms including increased monitoring, harassment, negative evaluations, providing unfavorable references, and in extreme cases, termination.

Such termination is deemed wrongful.

An image illustration of What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Washington State
What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Washington State
Source: (Freepik)

Retaliation and Protected Activities

Retaliation typically involves taking action against employees who engage in legally protected activities aimed at safeguarding their jobs or addressing injustices they’ve experienced.

Protected activities include actions like picketing, discussing wrongful termination, threatening legal action for discrimination, and supporting wrongfully terminated colleagues.

Companies are prohibited from retaliating against employees for engaging in these activities, as long as they don’t pose a threat or disrupt business operations.

However, certain behaviors, such as threats of violence, spreading unfounded rumors, and interfering with daily operations, are not protected and may lead to retaliation from the company.

Filing a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

If you’ve been fired in retaliation for any lawful claim you’ve made against your employer, you may be eligible to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit.

In Washington, you have three years from the date of termination to take legal action.

During this time, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel and file your case with either the Washington State Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Requirements for terminating an employee in Washington state?

In Washington state, employers have the freedom to terminate employees at will.

Done without specific cause, as long as it doesn’t breach employee protection laws.

Nonetheless, employees are entitled to request a written explanation for their termination by submitting a formal written request to the employer.

Must provide a signed statement detailing the reason for termination and its effective date.

An image illustration of Wrongful Termination in Washington State
Wrongful Termination in Washington State
Source: (Freepik)

What qualifies as wrongful termination in Washington?

Wrongful termination can occur if an employee is fired in contravention of anti-discrimination laws.

This is due to retaliation for engaging in protected activities, or violation of an employment agreement.

Is it possible to take legal action against your employer in Washington state?

Employees in Washington who sustain injuries while working cannot pursue negligence lawsuits against their employers.

Instead, they are required to file a workers’ compensation claim with L&I.

This is why attorneys dealing with L&I cases often refer to workers’ compensation as a “no-fault system.”

How long does an employer have to pay you after termination in Washington?

In Washington, when an employee resigns or is terminated, their final wages must be disbursed no later than the next regularly scheduled payday.

Employers are not permitted to withhold final paychecks based on factors such as the return of keys, uniforms, tools, or equipment.

However, there are regulations governing deductions from final wages.

What is included in termination payments?

If an employee is terminated due to serious misconduct, the employer isn’t obligated to give any prior notice.

Nevertheless, the employer must settle all outstanding entitlements.

Which typically include compensation for hours worked, accrued annual leave, and occasionally, long service leave.


Wrongful termination in Washington State encompasses various scenarios.

Such include; termination based on discrimination, retaliation for engaging in protected activities, and breaches of employment contracts.

Understanding these grounds is crucial for both employers and employees to ensure fair and lawful employment practices are upheld in the state.


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