American workers have been legally entitled to a workplace that is free of sexual harassment since 1964 when Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act became law. Socially and legally acceptable behaviors have changed a lot since 1964 though. Federal courts have amended the law at times to try to keep up with these changes. Seeing gaps in Title VII’s coverage of workers, some states have added more or equal protections with their own employment laws.
Colorado is called The Centennial State because it became a state in 1776, and sometimes it is called The Colorful State because of its varied and natural beauty. It can also be called a state with very good and appropriate employment laws, especially in regard to prohibiting sexual harassment and recognizing all gender-related discrimination and harassment. Colorado workers have been legally entitled to a workplace that is free of sexual harassment since 1957, making the state a long-time groundbreaker in employment protections for its workers.
How Colorado Protects Its Workers
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act of 1957 protects public and private employees from workplace discrimination and sexual harassment that is based on gender. The law applies to employers with one or more employees, regardless of whether they are located in Durango or in a big city like Denver. The law is, arguably, more inclusive of employees at small-businesses than Title VII, which only applies to workplaces that have 15 or more employees. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act can also be called progressive because it includes harassment that is based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Understanding the Law Can Be Tricky
Employment laws, even progressive ones, can have loopholes and exceptions that add complexity. For example, as employers, Colorado religious organizations are exempted from the Anti-Discrimination Act because it is not illegal for them to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This type of exception to an anti-discrimination law seems like a misstep. Victims of workplace sexual harassment in this type of situation should seek legal advice from an expert.
Getting Legal Help
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, you may feel angry or scared or simply frustrated with the situation at your workplace. Your income, health benefits, livelihood, and career may be threatened. Harassers typically escalate rather than back down, so the situation is likely to get even worse. Do not accept the harassment. It is your legal right to work in a harassment-free environment.
You must follow your employer’s harassment reporting procedure so that the harassment can be recorded and investigated. Once harassment has been confirmed, it should be stopped by your employer. You may need to escalate your complaint of sexual harassment if your employer does not stop the harassment. To learn more about your rights and to better understand the laws that protect you, consider talking to an employment lawyer.