Sexual Harassment in Colorado
Imagine being a young person working in an office in Denver. Imagine your manager makes the occasional lewd comment to you when no one else is around. You haven’t worked in many places and aren’t sure what to do. You think if you ignore it, he will stop. Instead, he makes a pass at you at the annual holiday party. You think it’s because he’s had a few too many drinks and consciously try to laugh it off. Then one dark winter night, he follows you to your car in the parking lot and sexually assaults you. He says you asked for it by not rebuffing him months ago. You feel violated, terrified for your safety, and afraid to return to work on Monday. You are concerned that you did somehow encourage his behavior. Plus, he is an Accounting team leader and you are a Payroll clerk. You wonder if the Human Resources manager will even believe you, if you do report what happened. And you don’t know what to do. You need help.
Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act
Sexual discrimination, including sexual harassment at work, is illegal in Colorado. Laws at the state and federal level protect workers from sexual harassment. According to those laws, employers are supposed to protect their workers, and it’s their responsibility to educate them about the right to a harassment-free workplace.
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) protects workers from sexual harassment based on a person’s sexual orientation, religion, transgender status, disability, race, creed, skin color, gender, age, or ancestry. The deadline for filing an employment complaint is six months (180 days), from the date of the harassing act. The Colorado Civil Rights Division will not extend the filing deadline, even if there’s a good reason.
Under Title VII of the Federal Human Rights Act of 1964, discrimination based on a person’s race, skin color, gender, religion, or country of national origin is illegal. This makes it a crime for an employer to make decisions about hiring, firing, promotions, or compensation based on race, skin color, gender, religion, or country of origin. Federal courts have stated that sexual discrimination protection is included in the larger category of discrimination protection.
If your employer has 15 or more workers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a second source of federal support for sexual harassment complaints. You can file a complaint directly with them, but it must be done within 180 days of the incident (starting the day it happened).
Where to Turn If You Have Been Harassed
To report workplace harassment, you can call (303) 894-2997 (Denver) or 1-800-262-4845 (outside the Denver area). Resources are available on both the Colorado and federal government websites. Navigating and understanding the complexities and nuances of the information can be confusing. You may need a lawyer to guide and support you through the complaint-filing process.
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