Both federal and, in Colorado, state law prohibit employment discrimination and retaliation based on an employee’s or job applicant’s race, sex, national origin, age, disability and religious discrimination. In addition, Colorado law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and complaints of domestic violence.
Claims of employment discrimination generally fall within two categories: disparate treatment and disparate impact:
- “Disparate treatment” means that an employee or applicant has been treated differently because of that person’s race, sex, etc.
- “Disparate impact” means that a neutral job practice (such as tests given to job applicants) has a negative impact on persons of a particular race, gender, etc., and is not justified by business necessity.
In addition, employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation to any employee or applicant who has a disability, as well as to employees’ religious practices.
No employee can be harassed because of his/her race, sex, or other category protected by the anti-discrimination laws. That includes both retaliation because that person has refused the employer’s, a supervisor’s or a co-employee’s sexual advances, and experiencing a hostile work environment because of that person’s race, sex, etc.
Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against any employee or applicant because that person has either:
- Opposed what he/she believes, reasonably and in good faith, to be employment discrimination; or
- Participated in a proceeding under the federal or state anti-discrimination laws, such as by filing a charge or lawsuit or by serving as a witness in such a proceeding.
A person who is interested in bringing such a claim needs to be aware of the procedures for that claim, as well as the remedies allowed by law.