Sex discrimination is discrimination in employment or employment opportunity on the basis of gender or gender identity. Two common examples of sex discrimination are refusing to hire someone because of their gender or firing someone because of their sexual orientation. In Colorado, it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their:
In addition, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee or job applicant because of the employer’s perception of their sexual orientation.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment claim is a type of sex discrimination claim. When there are harsh or repeated instances of sexual harassment, this behavior can create a hostile work environment. In order for a hostile work environment claim to be successful, there need not be a tangible employment action or economic injury, such as being demoted or fired. The mere existence of a hostile work environment is sufficient. Hostile work environment claims can be brought under Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) or under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (Co. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402).
Discriminatory behavior that can create a hostile work environment can include, but is not limited to:
- Telling sexually explicit jokes;
- Inappropriate touching;
- Sexual propositions;
- Sending nude images by email;
- Bringing offensive objects or pictures into the workplace;
- Using sexual slurs or name calling; and
- Ridicule or mockery.
The harasser does not have to be the employer, but can instead be a co-worker, or even a client or customer. In addition, the harasser can be the same sex as the victim.
When is Behavior in the Workplace Sexual Harassment?
In order for behavior to amount to prohibited sexual harassment, it must first be unwanted or unwelcome. Behavior that is invited is not sexual harassment. Likewise, simple teasing, offhand comments, or minor isolated incidents generally do not amount to sexual harassment.
In order for workplace behavior to be prohibited sexual harassment, it must be so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse employment decision.
Contact a Colorado Hostile Work Environment Attorney
If you go to work in an environment that is hostile or offensive because of your sex, do not wait – contact an experienced employment attorney immediately. The lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP are familiar with hostile work environment law in Colorado and have experience representing both victims of sexual harassment and employers who are accused of sexual harassment.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 303-991-3075 or contact us online for a private consultation.