Colorado Workplace Discrimination
Employers in Colorado have significant latitude when it comes to how they treat their employees, but there are strict laws in place that prohibit employers from treating employees in such a way that violates public policy or state or federal antidiscrimination statutes. Examples include retaliating against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim or refusing to participate in an illegal activity, or making an employment decision that has a disproportionate adverse impact on members of a protected class. If you believe you have been the victim of wrongful termination in Colorado, contact an experienced Colorado employment law attorney to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit against your employer, in order to pursue compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.
Protected Categories in Colorado
State and federal laws, like the Colorado Fair Employment Practices Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, make it illegal for Colorado employers to discriminate in employment on the basis of a “protected category,” or a personal characteristic shared by a group of people that is protected by law. For instance, it is against the law for an employer in the state of Colorado to treat a person or group of people differently from others at work because of the following protected characteristics:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage to a coworker
Types of Employment Discrimination
Workplace discrimination can take place in any part of the employment relationship, including hiring, discharge (wrongful termination), discipline, suspension, pay, promotion, and setting the terms and conditions of employment. In addition to discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristic, the following are other types of unlawful discrimination in employment:
- Workplace harassment and abusive conduct – Both Colorado law and federal antidiscrimination statutes prohibit unlawful harassment in the workplace, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or jokes, comments or physical contact of a sexual nature, when enduring the conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or when the conduct creates a work environment that is hostile, intimidating or offensive.
- Retaliation and protected activities – It is also against the law for an employer in Colorado to retaliate against an employee for engaging in an activity that is protected by law, such as opposing discriminatory practices in the workplace, filing a workers’ compensation claim, taking time off work to fulfill certain personal or civic obligations, or refusing to commit an illegal or wrongful act. Employees who report illegal activity on the part of their employer are known as “whistleblowers,” and have special protections under state and federal antidiscrimination laws.
Filing a Workplace Discrimination Claim in Colorado
Colorado’s antidiscrimination statute covers workplaces with between one and 14 employees, and a discrimination claim involving a workplace of this size can be filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD), while the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) covers workplaces with 15 or more employees, or 20 or more in the case of age discrimination. If your discrimination claim is not resolved by the CCRD or the EEOC, you may have grounds to pursue your claim in court, but it’s important to note that a lawsuit based on your discrimination claim must be filed within 90 days of receiving a dismissal letter from the CCRD or the EEOC. Consult a knowledgeable Colorado employment law attorney as soon as possible, to discuss the possibility of filing a workplace discrimination claim against your employer.