Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1956 No. 205 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


There may be no discrimination as to salaries between men and women who perform the same duties.

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                                                                February 20, 1956 

Honorable Tom A. Durham
Prosecuting Attorney
Whatcom County
Bellingham, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 205

 Dear Sir:

            Your letter of February 9, 1956, requested our opinion on the following question:

             Is a policewoman or a woman deputy sheriff by law entitled to the same salary as a man doing the same type of work?

             We answer your question in the affirmative.


             RCW 49.12.210 provides as follows:

             "Any employer in this state, employing both males and females, who discriminates in any way in the payment of wages as between sexes, or who pays any female a less wage, be it time or piece work, or salary, than is being paid to males similarly  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] employed, or in any employment formerly performed by males, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

             "If any female employee receives less compensation because of being discriminated against on account of her sex, and in violation of this section she shall be entitled to recover in a civil action the full amount of compensation that she would have received had she not been discriminated against.  In such action, however, the employer shall be credited with any compensation which has been paid to her upon account.  A differential in wages between employees based in good faith on factors other than sex shall not constitute discrimination within the meaning of this section."

             We feel that this statute clearly controls the question proposed, and that a policewoman or a woman deputy sheriff is entitled by law to a salary equal to that received by a man performing the same duties.  There can be no salary differential based on sex alone.  The employer must in good faith base any difference in salary upon other factors.

             We hope the foregoing analysis will prove helpful.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General 

Assistant Attorney General