Workers are entitled to protection from discrimination. L&I handles safety and health, wage and hour, and some other types of workplace discrimination.

Safety & Health Retaliation

Your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you solely because you have exercised your workplace safety & health rights, such as:

  • Bringing job safety and health concerns to your employer's attention.
  • Participating in union activities concerning safety and health matters.
  • Refusing a dangerous task when certain conditions exist.
  • Filing safety and health grievances.
  • Participating in safety and health inspections with a DOSH inspector.
  • Filing a complaint about a workplace safety or health hazard with DOSH, OSHA, your local health or fire department or any other appropriate government agency.

Get help

We can help you determine if you have been retaliated against for exercising any of these rights.

More information on workplace safety and health discrimination

Discrimination Not Handled by L&I

L&I does not have jurisdiction over any of the following kinds of unfair or discriminatory treatment. If a worker feels they are being treated unfairly for any of those reasons, contact the appropriate agency:

Employment of individuals lawfully consuming cannabis

The 2023 Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5123, which deals with the employment of individuals who lawfully consume cannabis. The state’s legalization of recreational cannabis in 2012 created a disconnect between prospective employees’ legal cannabis use and employers’ hiring practices. This bill prevents, in certain situations, employers from restricting job opportunities based on an applicant’s past use of cannabis.

L&I’s Employment Standards Program does not have enforcement authority. These protections are placed within RCW 49.44 and is enforced through private legal action only.

Employment Standards Protections

While Washington is an at-will employment state, employers cannot fire or retaliate against an employee who exercises a protected right or files a complaint under certain employment laws, including the Minimum Wage Act, which guarantees that workers:

  • Be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked.
  • Receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a work week.
  • Accrue, and be allowed to use, paid sick leave hours.
  • Be paid tips and service charges.
  • Be able to discuss potential violations of these rights with your employer.
  • File a complaint with Labor and Industries regarding any of these rights.

If you believe your rights have been violated, there are three ways you can file a complaint:

Other laws that protect employees from discrimination or retaliation include: