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Employment Laws in Colorado

Filed under Hiring Workers. Fact checked on June 7, 2013.

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Employers in Colorado must conform to these state rules relating to the employment relationship.

Employee is a person employed by an employer, except a person in domestic service of a person.

Employer means the state or any political subdivision, commission, department, institution or school district of the state, and every other person employing persons within the state, but it does not mean religious organizations or associations, except organizations or associations supported, in whole or in part, by money raised by taxation or public borrowing.

Employers with 25 or fewer employees may not discharge or refuse to hire a person or employee solely on the basis that the person or employee is married to or plans to marry another employee of the employer, unless one spouse would supervise the other, one spouse would audit or be entrusted with money handled by the other, or one spouse has access to the employer's confidential records.

Prohibited Employment Discrimination

Employers may not discriminate against employees or job applicants, or discriminate in matters of compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against a person otherwise qualified on the basis of:

  • disability
  • race
  • creed
  • color
  • sex
  • age
  • national origin
  • ancestry

It is not discriminatory or an unfair employment practice to refuse to hire persons with disabilities if there is no reasonable accommodation that the employer can make with regard to the disability, the disability actually disqualified the person from the job and the disability has a significant impact on the job. Employers may not terminate an individual because the individual engages in any lawful activity off the employer's premises during non-working hours.

Creed and religion are defined as a religious, moral, or ethical belief which is sincerely held and includes all aspects of religious practice and observance.

Nursing mothers. Under the Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against a mother-employee who seeks to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to two years after the child's birth.

Harassment. It is a discriminatory or unfair labor practice for an employer to harass a person during the course of employment. Harassment occurs if an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment is created based upon an individual's disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin, or ancestry.

Sexual orientation. Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited. Transgender status is included under prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Dress code. If an employer has a reasonable gender-specific dress code, the employer should permit employees to comply with the dress code provisions in an appropriate manner that is consistent with their gender identity. If a dress code is enforced it must be applied consistently to all employees.

Health care professionals. A health care professional who is employed by a health care facility that provides emergency medical care to sexual assault survivors is not required to inform the survivor of the availability of emergency contraception if the professional refuses to provide the information on the basis of religious or moral beliefs.

Disclosure of wages. Employers are prohibited from firing an employee or using other forms of discipline because an employee inquires about, discloses, compares, or otherwise discusses the employee's wages. Employers are also prohibited from requiring an employee to sign a waiver or refrain from disclosure or discussion of wage information as a condition of employment.

Civil air patrol. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against or discharging any member of the civil air patrol because of such membership. Discrimination includes prohibiting or hindering leave for which a member is entitled.

Liability for good faith disclosures. Employers may in good faith disclose information about any involvement in the mistreatment, exploitation, neglect or abuse of persons with developmental disabilities by a caregiver in response to a request from a current or prospective employer of the caregiver without being liable for disclosure.

Same-sex civil unions. Effective May 1, 2013, Colorado allows civil unions for same-sex couples.

Use of consumer credit information. Effective July 1, 2013, employers are prohibited from using consumer credit information for employment purposes unless the information is substantially related to the employee's current or potential job, if the employer is a bank or financial institution, or if the report is required by law. The bona fide purpose for requesting or using information in the credit report that is substantially related to the employee's current or potential job must be disclosed in writing to the employee.

If an employer relies on consumer credit information to take adverse action against an employee, the employer must disclose the fact in writing, along with the particular information used, to the employee.

Social media privacy. The Employee User Name Password Privacy Protection bill prohibits employers from suggesting, requesting, or requiring employees or applicants to disclose a user name, password, or other means of gaining access to a personal account or service through one’s personal electronic communications device.

Employers are also prohibited from requiring an employee or applicant to include the employer (or an agent of the employer) among his or her list of contacts associated with a social media account, or to change a social networking account’s privacy settings.

Employers cannot discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee for refusing to disclose such information or alter privacy settings and are also prohibited from refusing to hire a job applicant on this basis.

Intentional employment discrimination damages. Effective January 1, 2015, the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013 allows additional remedies of compensatory and punitive damages in employment discrimination cases brought under state law against employers where intentional discrimination is proven.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers must keep all records relevant to a job bias complaint until its final disposition.

Posting Requirements

Employers must conspicuously display a poster prepared by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, outlining the Fair Employment Practices law, in easily accessible and well-lighted places customarily frequented by employees and applicants for employment. There is no charge for the poster.

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