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WA state employment law, employee's right against employer for harassment, nepotism and abuse of power

Roy, WA |

I work for a smaller county in WA state. The office I work in is wrought with nepotism, hostility in the workplace, harrassment and many cases of verbal abuse. I have documented many many pages of incidents and brought them to the attention of the county commissioner as per the employee handbook in reporting problems. He cussed me out not once, but TWICE! He has a huge interest in my place of employment and is also in kahootz (sp?) with the interim manager's son. I don't know where else to turn other than to the State Attny. General and I am so scared of black-balling myself for future jobs anywhere else. I have documentation from the first week I worked here and I've only been here 6 months! The first week I was here I was told to lie to the police! That manager has since been terminated, but they put another one in his place that is a tyrant. I haven't quit because jobs are scarce and money is very tight these days. I need to work, but I can't handle this much longer, I need some advice!

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Attorney answers 1


Unless you are an independent contractor with an employment contract or working under a union contract, you are considered an at will employee. At will employees can be terminated/disciplined for anything EXCEPT the set discrimination bases. Under Federal law the discrimination bases are: age, sex, race, color, nationality, religion, disability, marital or military status. (See Your state laws also enfore these discrimination bases and MAY add one or two of their own. The most common being sexual oreintation.

Harassment, abuse, or hostility in the workplace must be connected to one of the discrimination bases. You will notice that nepotisim and favoritism are NOT discrimination bases. That means that the employer can hire and promote and protect his/her family and friends ---- AS LONG as they DO NOT discriminate againist others along the recognized bases. Go to for an understanding of discrimination.

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