Twenty current and former minorities and female employes of The Washington Star Company, including applicants for jobs, filed suit yesterday in U.S. District Court alleging intentional race and sex discrimination in hiring, salaries and promotions at the newspaper.

The suit contends that the Star denies equal employment opportunities to nonwhites and women and uses "intimidation and harassment" to discourage those employes from seeking jobs traditionally held by whites and males.

Only "token" nonwhites and females are given high-level jobs, the lawsuit contends, alleging that "discrimination in promotion, advancement and transfer is a pervasive practice" throughout the Star. The lawsuit contends that employes who have pressed for equal employment opportunities for minorities and women have been subject to "retaliation" by Star management in job assignments, promotions and pay increases.

Walter Diercks, general counsel to the Star, said yesterday that he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

The plaintiffs asked the federal court to certify the case as a class action, in behalf of all nonwhites and women who are employed at the Star or who sought jobs there but were allegedly denied equal employment opportunities in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to block further alleged discrimination in employment policies at the Star, institution of an affirmative action program, and whatever back pay, additional wages, job benefits and damages may be owed as a result of the Star's alleged illegal practices.