(1949) Washington State Law Against Employment Discrimination

10th Anniversary of Washington State Law Against Employment Discrimination Dinner, 1959
Courtesy Bill Stevens & Regina Bracher, Fair use image

Washington State Law Against Employment Discrimination

[CH. 183.] SESSION LAWS, 1949.

[ S.B.12. ]

AN ACT to prevent and eliminate discrimination in employment against
persons because of race, creed, color or national origin; creating in
the executive department a state board, against discrimination;
defining its functions, powers and duties and providing for the
appointment and compensation of its officers and employees.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Washington:
SECTION 1. This law shall be known as the “Law Against Discrimination
in Employment.” It shall be deemed an exercise of the police power of
the state for the protection of the public welfare, health and peace of
the people of this state, and in fulfillment of the provisions of the
constitution of this state concerning civil rights; and the Legislature
hereby finds and declares that practices of discrimination against any
of its inhabitants because of race, creed, color or national origin are
a matter of state concern that such discrimination threatens not only
the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants but menaces the
institutions and foundation of a free democratic state. A state agency
is hereby created with powers with respect to elimination and
prevention of discrimination in employment because of race,
creed, color or national origin, as herein provided; and the Board
established hereunder is hereby given general jurisdiction and power
for such purposes.

SEC. 2. The opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination
because of race, creed, color declared national to be origin is hereby
recognized as and declared to be a civil right.

SEC. 3. As used herein: (a) The term “person” includes one or more
individuals, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal
representatives, trustees in bankruptcy, receivers or any group of
persons, and includes any political or civil subdivision of the state
and any agency or instrumentality of the state or of any political or
civil subdivision thereof;
(b) The term “employer” includes any person acting in the interest of
an employer, directly, or indirectly, who has eight (8) or more persons
in his employ, and does not include any religious, charitable,
educational, social or fraternal association or corporation, not
organized for private profit;
(c) The term “employee” does not include any individual employed by his
parents, spouse or child, or in the domestic service of any person;
(d) The term “labor organization” includes any organization which
exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers
concerning grievances or terms or conditions of employment, or for
other mutual aid or protection in connection with employment; .
(e) The term “employment agency” includes any person undertaking with
or without compensation to recruit, procure, refer, or place employees
for an employer;
(f) The term “national origin” shall, for the purposes of this act, include “ancestry.

SEC. 4. (a) There is hereby created a Board to be known as the
Washington State Board Against Discrimination in Employment, which
shall be composed of five members to be appointed by the Governor, one
of whom shall be designated as chairman by the Governor.
(b) One of the original members shall be appointed for a term of one
year, one for a term of two years, one for a term of three years, one
for a term of four years, one for a term of five years, but their
successors shall be appointed for terms of five years each, except that
any individual chosen to fill a vacancy shall be appointed only for the
unexpired term of the member whom he shall succeed.
(c) Each member of the Board while in session or on official business
shall receive the sum of twenty dollars ($20) per day in lieu of
subsistence and shall receive reimbursement for actual and necessary
travelling expenses incurred during such time. Such reimbursement to be
made in the manner provided by law for similar reimbursements for state
employees. A member shall be eligible for reappointment.
(d) The Board shall have an official seal which shall be judicially noticed.
(e) A vacancy in the Board shall be filled within thirty days, the remaining members to exercise all powers of the Board.
(f) The principal office of the Board shall be in the City of Seattle,
but it may meet and exercise any or all of its powers at any other
place in the state and may establish such district offices as it deems
(g) The Board, at the close of each six months period, shall report to
the Governor, describing in detail the investigations, proceedings, and
hearings it has conducted and their outcome, the decisions it has
rendered, the recommendations it has issued, and the other work
performed by it, and shall make such recommendations for further
legislation as may appear desirable. The Board shall present its
reports to each regular session of the Legislature; the Board’s reports
shall be published and made available upon request.
(h) Any member of the Board may be removed by the Governor for
inefficiency, neglect of duty, misconduct or malfeasance in office,
after being given a written statement of the charges and an opportunity
to be heard thereon.

SEC. 5. The Board shall formulate policies to effectuate the purposes
of this act and may make recommendations to agencies and officers of
the state or local subdivisions of government in aid of such policies
and purposes.

SEC. 6. The Board shall have the following functions, powers and duties:
(a) To establish and maintain its principal office in the City of
Seattle, and such other offices within the state as it deems necessary.
(b) To meet and function at any place within the state.
(c) To appoint an Executive Secretary and Chief Examiner, and such
investigators, examiners, clerks, arid other employees and agents as it
may deem necessary, fix their compensation within the limitations
provided by law, and prescribe their duties.
(d) To obtain upon request and utilize the services of all governmental departments and agencies.
(e) To adopt, promulgate, amend; and rescind suitable rules and
regulations to carry out the provisions of this act, and the policies
and practices of the Board in connection therewith.
(f) To receive, investigate arid pass upon complaints alleging
discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color or national
(g) To hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance,
administer oaths, take the testimony of any person under oath, and in
connection therewith, to require the production for examination of any
books or papers relating to any matter under investigation or in
question before the Board. The Board may make rules as to the issuance
of subpoenas by individual members as to service of complaints,
decisions, orders, recommendations and other process or papers of the
Board, its member, agent, or agency, either personally or by registered
mail, return receipt requested, or by leaving a copy thereof at the
principal office or place of business of the person required to be
served. The return post office receipt, when service is by registered
mail, shall be proof of service of the same.
No person shall be excused from attending and testifying or from
producing records, correspondence, documents or other evidence in
obedience to the subpoena of the Board or of any individual member, on
the ground that the testimony or evidence required of him may tend to
incriminate him or subject him to a penalty or forfeiture, but no
person shall be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture
for or on account of any transaction, matter or thing concerning which
he is compelled, after having claimed his privilege against self
incrimination, to testify or produce evidence, except that such person
so testifying shall not be exempt from prosecution and punishment for
perjury committed in so testifying. The immunity herein provided shall
extend only to natural persons so compelled to testify.
In case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any
person, the Superior Court of any county within the jurisdiction of
which the investigation, proceeding, or hearing is carried on or within
the jurisdiction of which said person guilty of contumacy or refusal to
obey is found or resides or transacts business, upon application by the
Board shall have jurisdiction to issue to such person an order
requiring such person to appear before the Board, its member, agent, or
agency, there to produce evidence if so ordered, or there to give
testimony touching the matter under investigation or in question, and
any failure to obey such order of the Court may be punished by said
Court as a contempt thereof.
(h) To create such advisory agencies and conciliation councils, local,
regional or state wide, as in its judgment will aid in effectuating the
purposes of this article, and the Board may empower them to study the
problems of discrimination in all or specific fields of human
relationships or in specific instances of discrimination because of
race, creed, color or national origin, and to foster through community
effort or otherwise good will, cooperation and conciliation among the
groups and elements of the population of the state, and, make
recommendations to the Board for the development of policies and
procedures in general and in specific instances, and for programs of
formal and informal education which the Board may recommend to the
appropriate state agency. Such advisory agencies and conciliation
councils shall be composed of representative citizens, serving without
pay, but with reimbursement for actual and necessary travelling
expenses, and the Board may make provision for technical and clerical
assistance to such agencies and councils and for the expenses of such
assistance; the Board may use organizations specifically experienced in
dealing with questions of discrimination.
(i) To issue such publications and such results of investigations and
research as its judgment will tend to promote good will and minimize or
eliminate discrimination because of race, creed, color or national
(j) To adopt an official seal.
(k) To make such technical studies as are appropriate to effectuate the
purposes and policies of this act and to publish and distribute the
reports of such studies.
(1) Witnesses before the Board, its member, agent, or agency, shall be
paid the same fees and mileage that are paid witnesses in the Courts of
this state. Witnesses whose depositions are taken and the person taking
the same shall be entitled to same fees as are paid for like services
in the Courts of the state.

SEC. 7. (1) It shall be an unfair employment practice for any employer:
(a) To refuse to hire any person because of such person’s race, creed,
color, or national origin, unless based upon a bona fide occupational
(b) To discharge or bar any person from employment because of such person’s race, creed, color, or national origin.
(c) To discriminate against any person in compensation or in other
terms or conditions of employment because of such person’s race, creed,
color or national origin.
(2) It shall be an unfair employment practice for any labor union or labor organization:
(a) To deny full membership rights and privileges to any person because
of such person’s race, or national creed, color, or national origin.
(b) To expel from membership any person because of such person’s race, creed, color or national origin; or
(c) To discriminate against any member, employer, or employee because of such person’s creed, color, or national origin.
(3) It shall be an unfair employment practice for any employment
agency, except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or
need, to fail or refuse to classify properly or refer for employment,
or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his
race, color, religious creed, national origin or ancestry.
(4) It shall be an unfair employment practice for any employer,
employment agency, or labor union to discharge, expel, or otherwise
discriminate against any person because he has opposed any practices
forbidden by this act, or because he has filed a charge, testified, or
assisted in any proceeding under this act.
(5) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for any person to aid,
abet, encourage, or incite the commission of any unlawful employment
practice, or to attempt to obstruct or prevent any other person from
complying with the provisions of this act or any order issued

SEC. 8. Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unfair
employment practice may, by himself or his attorney, make, sign and
file with the Board a complaint in writing under oath, which shall
state the name and address of the person, employer, labor organization
or employment agency alleged to have committed the unfair employment
practice, and which shall set forth the particulars thereof and contain
such other information as may be required by the Commission. The Board,
whenever it has reason to believe that any persons [person] has been
engaged or is engaging in an unfair employment practice may issue a
complaint. Any employer whose employees, or any of them, refuse or
threaten to refuse plaint asking to comply with the provisions of this
act may file with the Board a written complaint under oath asking for
assistance by conciliation or other remedial action. After the filing
of any complaint, the chairman of the Board shall refer the same to a
member or investigator to make prompt preliminary investigation of such
complaint, and, if such member or
investigator determines after such preliminary investigation that there
is reasonable cause for believing that an unfair employment practice
has been or is being committed as alleged in such complaint, he shall
immediately endeavor to eliminate the unfair employment practice
complained of by conference, conciliation and persuasion. No member or
investigator shall disclose what has occurred in the course of such
endeavors, provided the Board may publish the facts in the case of any
complaint which has been dismissed and the terms of conciliation when a
complaint has been adjusted. In case of failure to eliminate such
practice, the investigator or investigating member shall certify the
complaint and the result of his investigation to the Chairman of the
The Chairman of the Board shall thereupon appoint a hearing tribunal of
three persons who shall be members of the Board or panel of hearing
examiners to hear such complaint and shall cause to be issued and
served in the name of the Board a written notice, together with a copy
of such complaint, as the same may have been amended, requiring the
person, employer, labor organization or employment agency named in such
complaint, hereinafter referred to as the respondent, to answer the
charges of such complaint at a hearing before such tribunal, at a time
and place to be specified in such notice. The place of any such hearing
may be the office of the Board or another place designated by it. The
case in support
of the complaint shall be presented at the hearing by counsel for the
Commission; and no member of the Board who previously made the
investigation or caused the notice to be issued shall participate in
the hearing except as a witness, nor shall he participate in the
deliberations of the tribunal in such case. Any endeavors or
negotiations for conciliation shall not be received in evidence. The
respondent may file a written answer to the complaint and appear at
such hearing in person or otherwise, with or without counsel, and
submit testimony and be fully heard. The tribunal conducting any
hearing may permit reasonable amendment to any complaint or answer and
the testimony taken at each hearing shall be under oath and be
transcribed at the request of any party. If, upon all the evidence, the
tribunal finds that a respondent has engaged in any unfair employment
practice as defined in section 7, it shall state its findings of fact
and shall issue and file with the Board and cause to be served on such
respondent an order requiring such respondent to cease and desist from
such unfair employment practice. If, upon all the evidence, the
tribunal finds that the respondent has not engaged in any alleged
unfair employment practice, it shall state its findings of fact and
shall similarly issue and file an order dismissing the complaint. The
Board shall establish rules of practice Rules of to govern, expedite
and effectuate the foregoing procedure. Any complaint filed pursuant to
this section must be so filed within six months after the alleged act
of discrimination.

SEC. 9. (a) The Board may petition the Court Enforcement within the
county wherein any unfair employment practice occurred or wherein any
person charged with unlawful employment practice resides or transacts
business, for the enforcement of any order issued by a tribunal under
the provisions of this act and for appropriate temporary relief or a
restraining order; and shall certify and file in Court a transcript of
the entire record of the proceedings, including the pleadings and
testimony upon which such order was made and the finding and orders of
the hearing tribunal. Within five days after filing such petition in
the Court the Board shall cause a notice of such petition to be sent by
registered mail to all parties or their representatives. The Court
shall have jurisdiction of the proceedings and of the questions
determined thereon, and shall have the power to grant such relief by
injunction or otherwise, including temporary relief, as it deems just
and suitable and to make and enter, upon the pleadings, testimony and
proceedings set forth in such transcript, a decree enforcing, modifying
and enforcing as so modified, or setting aside in whole or in part any
order of the Board or hearing tribunal.
(b) The findings of the hearing tribunal as to the facts, if supported
by substantial and competent evidence, shall be conclusive. The Court,
upon its own motion or upon motion of either of the parties to the
proceeding, may permit each party to introduce such additional evidence
as the court may believe necessary to a proper decision of the cause.
(c) The jurisdiction of the Court shall be exclusive and its judgment
and decree shall be final, except that the same shall be subject to
review by the Supreme Court, on appeal, by either party, irrespective
of the nature of the decree or judgment.
Such appeal shall be taken and prosecuted in the same manner and form
and with the same effect as is provided in other cases of appeal to the
Supreme Court, and the record so certified shall contain all that was
before the lower Court.
(d) Any respondent aggrieved by a final order of a hearing tribunal may
obtain a review of such order in the Superior Court for the county
where the unfair employment practice is alleged to have occurred or in
the county wherein such person resides or transacts business by filing
with the Clerk of said Court, within two weeks from the date of such
order, a written petition in duplicate praying that such order be
modified or set aside. The Clerk shall thereupon mail the duplicate
copy to the Board. The Board shall then cause to be filed in said Court
a certified transcript of the entire record in the proceedings,
including the pleadings, testimony and order. Upon such filing said
Court shall proceed in the same manner as in the case of a petition by
the Board under this section and shall have the same, exclusive
jurisdiction to grant to the respondent such temporary relief or
restraining order as it deems just and suitable, and in like manner to
make and enter a decree enforcing or modifying and enforcing as so
modified or setting aside, in whole or in part, the order sought to be
(e) Unless otherwise directed by the Board tribunal or Court,
commencement of review proceedings under this section shall operate as
a stay of any order.
(f) Petitions filed under this section shall be heard expeditiously and
determined upon the transcript filed, without requirement of printing.
Hearings in the Court under this act shall take precedence over all
other matters, except matters of the same
(g) No Court of this state shall have jurisdiction to issue any
restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction preventing the
Board from performing any function vested in it by this act, nor shall
any Court have any jurisdiction to issue any order relating to the
administration of this act, except as provided by sections 10 and 11
(h) This section shall not be applicable to orders issued against any
political or civil subdivision of the state, or any agency, office, or
employee thereof.

SEC. 10. Any person, employer, labor organization or employment agency,
who or which shall wilfully resist, prevent, impede, or interfere with
the orders of Board or any of its members or representatives in the
performance of duty under this article, or shall wilfully violate an
order of the Board, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; but procedure for
the review of the order shall not be deemed to be such wilful conduct.

SEC. 11. In any case in which the Board shall issue an order against
any political or civil subdivision of the state, or any agency, or
instrumentality governmental of the state or of the foregoing, or any
officer or employee thereof, the Board shall transmit a copy of such
order to the Governor of the state who shall take such action as he
deems appropriate to secure compliance with such order.

SEC. 12. The provisions of this act shall be construed liberally for
the accomplishment of the purposes thereof. Nothing contained in this
act shall be deemed to repeal any of the provisions of any other law of
this state relating to discrimination because of race, color, creed or
national origin.

SEC. 13. If any provision of this act or the application of such
provision to any person or circumstance shall be held invalid, the
remainder of such act or the application of such provision to persons
or circumstances other than those to which it is held invalid shall not
be affected thereby.

SEC. 14. There is hereby appropriated from General Fund the sum of
twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000) to carry out the purpose of this
Passed the Senate February 22, 1949.
Passed the House March 6, 1949.
Approved by the Governor March 19, 1949.