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How will SCOTUS ruling affect LGBTQ workers in Washington state?

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in three landmark cases that will shape how federal law treats LGBTQ employees, it’s a good time to ask how the justices’ decision might affect Washington state protections for gay and transgender people in the workplace.

The short answer is it won’t: Washington state protections for LGBTQ employees will remain unchanged regardless of the high court’s ruling.

SCOTUS is tackling the question of whether gay and transgender people are protected by a federal law prohibiting sex-based employment discrimination, by examining three claims that workers were fired because of their sexual orientation. 

Washington state law–as well as some city and county laws–already regards sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in employment, according to a KUOW primer on the subject.

Since 2006, LGBTQ workers in Washington have enjoyed protections under RCW 49.60, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodation, credit, and insurance.”

In addition to state law, which protects workers in the private and public sector, Seattle, King County, Tacoma, Olympia and Burien also prohibit LGBTQ discrimination in housing and employment, according to the ACLU of Washington.

While a Supreme Court ruling against LGBTQ workplace protections won’t affect Washington workers, it would add an important federal layer of protection for the community. A ruling isn’t expected until next year.

If you believe you are the victim of workplace discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, contact Emery Reddy. You won’t get better advice.

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