The Plaintiff had strongly held religious beliefs. She overheard the Superintendent of the school district, to whom she reported, make disparaging comments about an independent contractor with whom she worked.? ?In response to his direct questions, she relayed that information to the contractor.?? The Superintendent confronted the Plaintiff about the information she relayed to the contractor, ?and? insisted? that ?Plaintiff? divulge what she told him. ?The Superintendent insisted that Plaintiff tell the contractor that the information she had previously told was untrue. The Plaintiff refused because that would require her to tell a lie which would be a violation of her religious beliefs.
Thereafter ?the? Superintendent ?held ?a? meeting with Plaintiff and another employee concerning an upcoming school project.? ?She explicitly instructed? ?the? ?Plaintiff? ?not? ?to? ?discuss?? the substance of the meeting with the independent contractor or whether that the meeting even had occurred.???????? ?According??? ?to??? ?Plaintiff,??? ?the?Superintendent did not merely tell her to maintain a confidence, instead she expressly and repeatedly directed her to lie.?Thereafter, the working environment because extremely difficult and allegedly hostile.? ?The Plaintiff took a leave of absence because of the hostile environment created by the Superintendent. She never returned from the leave and resigned.?The Plaintiff brought suit alleging religious discrimination, ?failure? to ?accommodate? her religious beliefs, and retaliation under the WLAD. The?? School? ?District?s? ?motion? ?for?? summary judgment was granted for failure to state a prima facie case under all theories.?? ?The Plaintiff appealed.
The Court of Appeals affirmed.?? The Court ruled that Washington State has not yet recognized a claim for failure to accommodate based upon religious beliefs. ?The Court distinguished Hiatt v. Walker Chevrolet Co., 120 Wn.2d 57, 837 P.2d?618 (1992), relied upon by the Plaintiff. ?The Court explained that Hiatt addressed a religious discrimination claim based upon failure to accommodate, and not separate claims of religious discrimination and failure to accommodate, as argued by the Plaintiff.?? ?The Court further explained that ?the Hiatt opinion recognized such claims only under federal law.? ?Emphasis original. The Court declined to interpret the WLAD to include a failure to accommodate claim based upon religious beliefs.
In reference to the retaliation claim, the Plaintiff argued ?that ?she ?was ?constructively? discharged. The Court rejected this argument.? ?The Court applied the McDonnell Douglas shifting burden model. ?The Court assumed, without deciding, that the Plaintiff was engaged in protected activity. ?It ruled, however, that Plaintiff failed to establish a?prima facie case because she failed to prove constructive discharge.???? ??To establish constructive discharge an employee must show?1) a deliberate act by the employer that made her working conditions so intolerable that a reasonable person in her shoes would have felt compelled to resign and 2) that she resigned because of her working conditions and not for some other reason.? ?Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to meet this standard.
Plaintiff did not argue that the WLAD only requires ?proximate cause? and not constructive discharge.??? ?See ?Martini ?v. ?Boeing ?Co., ?137?Wn.2d 357, 971 P. 2d 45 (1999) (?Prohibiting an award of back or front pay for wrongful discrimination absent a successful constructive discharge claim would not further the policy behind ?Washington’s ?law? against discrimination?).
Short v. Battle Ground School District., 169 Wn. App. ?188, ?279 ?P.3d ?902 ?(Div. ?II? 6/26/2012) (Hunt, Worswick, Quinn-Brintnall).