Discrimination Gender in Colorado – Denver Lawyers

WE HELP COLORADO EMPLOYERS TO DEFEND AGAINST GENDER DISCRIMINATION.

If you want to avoid the hassle and costly loss to your company that can occur when a gender discrimination allegation arises then make it a priority to understand workplace discrimination.

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Drafting Employment Contracts

As a Colorado employer, whether you hire full-time, part-time or employ independent contractors in your business, it is very important for you to understand gender discrimination laws because courts place significant importance on protecting rights of employees.

You must be mindful when drafting employment contracts or policies because they could potentially lead to gender discrimination in the workplace. You can never be “too” attentive or diligent when it comes to drafting and applying gender-neutral company policy. Having an employment discrimination lawyer who is well seasoned in both Colorado and Federal employment law statutes to review your company’s policy could serve as a benefit.

  • Having a business plan that addresses the broad scope of these issues is essential.
  • In your plan, you want to include, but aren’t limited to: discrimination training, employment policies, and assigning consequences in cases of discrimination at work.
  • It will also require an oversight of a thorough investigation into complaints about discrimination as they arise to prevent any possible discrimination claims or allegations of retaliation for complaining about discrimination. Failure to do so can lead to allegations of workplace discrimination, which in turn can lead to exceedingly controversial, inconvenient, and costly discrimination lawsuit.

Employers Be Aware that Colorado Courts and EECOC Guidelines in Denver CO Work Together to Combat Discrimination in Workplace

Laws placing taxing consequences on Colorado employers for discrimination of gender complaint are vigorously enforced by the Denver Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In fact, Colorado employment state laws and federal employment laws alike aggressively protect employees against gender discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex.

These laws require equal treatment, policies, standards and practices for males and females in all phases of the employment process. This protection expands to non-employee individuals who are submitting job applications to your business. It is vital for employers to be aware that not only can their policies affect employees but non- employees as well.

EEOC Guidelines Does Not Only Limit Gender Discrimination to Equal Treatment for Female and Male Employees But it Also Protects Employees from Stereotypical Assumptions Related to Their Gender

Be aware that Title VII prohibition against discrimination of gender includes employment decisions made on the basis of stereotypical assumptions, or a paternalistic view, regarding genders. Before making a policy adjustment, be sure that the amendment is not singling out a specific characteristic attributable to female or male group. Below are examples of cases where the Courts agreed with the EEOC (29 C.F.R. § 1604.2(a)):

  1. Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989)
    1. “The supreme court concluded that making an employment decision on the basis of a sex-stereotype was the same as making a decision on the basis of sex”
    2. “Courts have held “sex stereotyping by an employer based on a person’s gender non-conforming behavior is impermissible discrimination”
  2. Smith v. City of Salem, Ohio, 378 F.3d 211, 218 (2nd Cir. 2005)
    1. “Individual employees who face adverse employment action as a result of their employer’s animus toward their exhibition of behavior considered to be stereotypically inappropriate for their gender may have claim under Title VII.”
  3. Los Angeles, Dept. of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 707 (1978)
    1. “Employment decisions cannot be predicated on myth or stereotyped assumptions of male or female characteristics.”
  4. Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321, 334- 35 (1977)
    1. “Title VII prohibits refusal to hire an individual on basis of stereotyped characterizations of the sexes; purpose of Title VII is to allow individual women freedom to choose dangerous work.”

Colorado Employer’s Right to Require Grooming and Issues Involving Grooming

Generally, grooming policies are not illegal sex stereotyping. As an employer in Denver or Colorado, you have the right to keep a certain business aesthetic as you desire. Sometimes the Courts will uphold employer’s dress and grooming policies that distinguish sex.

The courts will find no violation of Title VII as long as the policy does not impose an unequal burden on men or women. Below are examples of cases where an employer requests to employees to adhere to a stereotypical appearance standard assigned to their sex and the Courts various holdings where they found the grooming policy to be either lawful or unlawful.

  1. When grooming standards are lawful
    1. Longo v. Carlise De Coppet & Co., 537 F.2d 685 (2nd Cir. 1976)
      1. “No Title VII violation based on an employer’s grooming policy that requires the hair length for men to be shorter than for women
  2. When grooming standards the courts have taking an assorted technique of when grooming standards are unlawful
    1. Compare, Fountain v. Safeway Stores Inc., 555 F.2d 753, 755 (9th Cir. 1977)
      1. Requiring men to wear neckties is permissible under title vii
    1. Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co., Inc., 392 F.3d 1076 (9th Cir. 2004)
      1. Holding no Title VII violation where employer fires female for not wearing make-up
    1. Frank v. United Airlines, 216 F.3d 845 (9th Cir. 1979)
      1. Requiring women to maintain relative lower weight than men violates Title VII
    1. Carroll v. Talman Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 604 F.2d 1028, 1032 (7th Cir. 1979)
      1. Employer’s policy requiring female employees to wear uniforms but permitting male employees to wear “appropriate business attire” of their choosing was sex discrimination in violation of Title VII
    1. Frank v. United Airlines, Inc., 216 F.3d 845 9th Cir. 2000)
      1. An airline can require all flight attendants to wear contacts instead of glasses, but it cannot require only its female flight attendants to do so

Examples above are mere guidelines to navigate the outer edges of what is impermissible and permissible workplace gender discrimination. Given that the legal interpretation of Title VII has undertaken many variations since it was adopted in 1964 and will continue to do so.

The current line between untolerable and tolerable sex discrimination will no doubt continue to be redefined by courts and EEOC.

What does the 10th Circuit Think About Your Grooming Policies? Keep it Legitimate

On February 26, 2018, New York federal appeals court ruled that protections for employees under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act extend to those discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.  Other federal appeals courts, including the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses district court appeal cases in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma (Eastern, Northern, Western districts), Utah, and Wyoming, have concluded that discrimination under Title VII does not extend to discriminatory acts based on an individual’s sexual orientation.  In essence, the federal appeals courts are split on this question.

Lucky for you, Colorado Employer, you’re a part of the 10th Circuit. However, be mindful that findings of law and conclusion from other federal court of appeals discrimination cases can be used to in your case to persuade a judge or jury in your case.

This is more reason to avoid any possibility of a EEOC discrimination claim against your business. 10th circuit court may be persuaded to decide against your business with the help of a credible case outside of 10th circuit jurisdiction.  

What Should Employers Do When Implementing Grooming Policies?

  1. Consider where the differentiating standard you want to implement is certainly necessary
    1. As demonstrated by Jespersen, contrary dress code requirements often provoke different feedbacks according to gender roles. Before administering policies that may trigger discrimination in the workplace, employers should consider to what extent differing dress code standards are really worth the many risks that are associated with them.
  2. Cautiously research unequal gender impacts of your grooming policy
    1. As an employer or business owner in Denver or Colorado, you have the right to establish your company as an upmarket establishment and require employees to dress a certain way, however, an employer must prudently research whether and to what extent the standards may impose differing burdens on either sex
  3. Be open to employee’s input on grooming policies
    1. Considering that your employees come from all kinds of backgrounds, it’s important for grooming policies to be flexible in order to accommodate other employees. 
  4. Most importantly, seek help
    1. There are many complexities when it comes to implementing policies that do not impose disproportionate burdens on either sex. Which is why employers should seek help whenever drafting or updating workplace policies.

As with any legally protected status, Colorado employers and business owners should take steps to avoid a discrimination lawsuit from employees. Employers that fail to act to prevent gender discrimination will be left liable under Title VII and other state and federal discrimination laws.

For immediate employment discrimination defense due to allegations of gender discrimination on the workplace, call Watson & Associates, LLC defense lawyers at 720-941-7200.

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