Employment discrimination on the basis of race is prohibited under both Colorado and federal law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) protects employees and job applicants from discrimination on the basis of race, in addition to discrimination because of characteristics that are associated with race such as skin color, facial features, or hair texture. In addition, Colorado has an Anti-Discrimination Statute (Co. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402) that extends Title VII’s protections to all private employers in Colorado, with the exception of religious institutions.
Discriminatory acts that are prohibited under these are wide-ranging, and include 1) adverse employment actions, such as hiring, firing, or not promoting someone because of their race, and 2) harassing someone because of their race, even if the harassment is not accompanied by an economic injury.
Hostile Work Environment Claims in Colorado
A hostile work environment claim is a type of racial discrimination claim that an employee can bring when they are experiencing harassment in the workplace. Examples of harassment because of race can include, but are not limited to:
- Use of racial slurs;
- Race-based jokes;
- Offensive remarks about a person’s race, color, or facial features;
- Display or racially-offensive symbols, objects, or statements in the workplace;
- Circulation of racially-offensive emails or videos;
- Racially-offensive screensavers; and
- Derogatory gestures and facial expressions.
An employee need not be an actual member of a particular race in order to bring a racial discrimination lawsuit. It is sufficient that the employer, supervisor, co-workers, or clients perceive the employee as a member of a racial group. Likewise, the employee who brings the hostile work environment claim does not need to be the employee who is targeted by the harassment; however, they must be affected by the harassment in some way.
When harassing behaviors such as those above are frequent or severe, or if they result in an adverse employment decision, a hostile or offensive work environment is created. The mere existence of a hostile work environment is sufficient for an employee to bring a discrimination claim.
Contact a Colorado Hostile Work Environment Attorney
Having to work in a hostile environment can be emotionally damaging. Too often, employees feel like they are forced to choose between putting up with harassment or losing their job. However, there is a third option: if you are a victim of racial harassment in your job, contact HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. We have experience representing both victims of racial harassment and employers who are accused of racial harassment. Both sides deserve a strong advocate who is willing to fight for their rights.
If you are a victim of racial harassment in the workplace, contact HKM Employment Attorneys LLP online or call us at 303-991-3075 for a private consultation.