The History of Laws Protecting LGBTQIA+ Workers from Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace in Colorado
June 30, 2023
By: Colin A. Walker
As Pride Month draws to a close, it may be good to recall the history of protection of LGBTQIA+ workers. As in most states, until recently, there was no legal protection of LGBTQIA+ workers in Colorado. Then, in 1990, the Denver City Council passed an ordinance making it illegal to discriminate or harass employees on the basis of sexual orientation in the City and County of Denver. But, that law did not apply outside the City and County of Denver.
In 2008, the Colorado legislature passed amendments to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), which added sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the classes that are protected from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. In 2021, the Colorado legislature passed amendments to CADA to specifically include gender expression or their gender identity as protected classes. The laws of many other states also prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of LGBTQIA+ status. However, many other states do not prohibit discrimination against LGBTQIA+ workers and no federal law prohibits such discrimination.
However, in 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. To the surprise of many, the opinion, written by Justice Gorsuch, held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This extended the prohibition of discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation to the full extent of Title VII, which encompasses the entire country (regardless of state laws). Thus, even in the states whose laws do not prohibit discrimination, LGBTQIA+ workers are protected by federal law.
The laws has come a long way in recent years and LGBTQIA+ workers are now entitled to significant protection against discrimination and harassment in the work place. Happy Pride Month!