Business owners bear the responsibility to conduct business in a fair and unbiased manner. In order to ensure that employers do not take advantage of employees and associates, the government enacted a number of laws pertaining to business ethics. While these laws were put in place to protect individuals from unethical treatment by employers, these laws can also be taken advantage of and used unfairly against employers who have actually not violated any law. Whatever side of the situation you may find yourself on, it is important to realize the importance of a qualified Washington employment law attorney when dealing with an ethics investigation.
Ethics investigations can stem from any number of potentially unethical situations. Unfair treatment at work based on an employee’s age, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability, or for any other questionable reason is discrimination. Many laws are in place to protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. It is also unethical for an employer to take adverse action against an employee for taking a medical leave or for seeking disability benefits. No matter what the situation you may find yourself in, a highly knowledgeable and experienced employment lawyer can help you navigate your way through an ethics investigation.
Workplace Ethics Laws in Washington
The state of Washington has several laws that specifically prohibit certain types of unethical or wrongful behavior in the workplace, whether on the part of the employer or employee. For example, Washington’s anti-discrimination laws protect several specific classes of employees from discriminatory treatment in any workplace with eight or more employees. The protected classes in Washington exceed the number of protected classes under federal employment laws. These classes include:
- National Origin
- Age (40 years old and over)
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity
- Honorably discharged veteran or military status
- HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C status
- Pregnancy or maternity
- Use of a service animal by a person with a disability
Washington law prohibits employers from using any of the above reasons exclusively to refuse to hire an applicant, refuse an employee promotions, raises, or other deserved privileges or benefits, terminate an employee, or otherwise treat an employee in a different, discriminatory or abusive manner. Furthermore, an employer may not retaliate against employees with adverse employment actions such as demotion, suspension, or termination for certain reasons. These reasons include:
- Opposing an unethical or unfair practice
- Reporting or complaining of unethical or discriminatory behavior
- Filing a whistleblower complaint
- Filing a nursing home abuse complaint
An employer may not realize the specificity of state laws regarding ethical behavior and treatment, and may believe that their behavior is legal if it does not directly go against Title VII or other federal employment laws. Similarly, an employee may not realize the full extent of his or her rights under Washington law. For these reasons, when facing an ethical investigation, both employers and involved employees should consult with an experienced employment attorney who is highly familiar with the applicable Washington state laws.
Ethics Investigation Lawyer Serving Washington
Ethics investigations can be exceptionally complex and time intensive. It is very important that you retain an attorney that you can trust. The attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to assist you throughout the ethics investigation process. Unlike other firms, we focus exclusively on employment law, especially those laws pertaining to employment ethics. This knowledge and our 40 years of experience representing clients in employment law cases makes our firm an ideal candidate to handle your case. Your future depends on the sound legal representation of a dedicated attorney. Call our firm today.
Contact a Washington ethics investigation attorney if you have been a victim of unethical dealings or if you face accusations of unethical business practices.