state protection

Military Status (WA)

discrimination is prohibited

Military Status as a Protected Class (WA)

Washington state law prohibits discrimination on the basis of veteran or military status only when a discharge has been honorable. (There are four types of military discharges other than honorable – general, undesirable, bad conduct, and dishonorable.) This applies to any honorably discharged veteran or an active or reserve member in any branch of the armed forces of the United States, including the National Guard, Coast Guard, and Armed Forces reserves.

A housing provider must not negatively consider veteran or military status when making housing-related decisions. In addition, housing policies and practices must not have an adverse impact on veterans or those in the military by preventing a housing provider from selling or renting to veterans or those currently in the military. In addition, many veterans are protected by fair housing law’s prohibition against discrimination based on physical or mental disability.

There are a number of federal protections on the basis of veteran status. For example, the federal Service Members Civil Relief Act protects service members from eviction while the service member is in a period of military service [50 U.S.C. App. §531 (1)(a)]. A landlord should not deny rental to a service member or reservist based on the assumption that he or she would be called to active duty before the terms of the lease are completed. Similarly, a real estate agent should not steer or persuade a service member to buy a home in a certain area simply because of its proximity to a military base or other military families. Housing providers should be aware that federal laws do not always distinguish among the various types of discharges.

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The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and the publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

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