Harassment & Hostile Work Environment

Harassment as Unlawful Employment Discrimination

Pursuant to federal and Colorado employment law, workplace harassment is unlawful.

Harassment is unlawful employment discrimination when the conduct is based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, religion, disability, or age. Unlawful sex harassment includes same sex harassment.

Private sector and federal, state, and local government employees have the right to be free from unlawful discrimination, in the form of harassment or the creation of a hostile work environment.

Retaliatory harassment is unlawful. Federal and Colorado law prohibit harassment against an individual, through retaliation, because the individual opposed any unlawful practice under the applicable law, i.e. the individual opposed sex discrimination, or the individual made a charge, assisted, testified or participated in any investigation, litigation, or proceeding under the law.

Murray Law welcomes the opportunity to provide serious and experienced counsel, representation to private and public sector clients confronting unlawful workplace harassment. Steven Murray has successfully represented private sector and federal, state, and local government employees asserting unlawful harassment claims in lawsuits before United States District Courts, including the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

Harassment-Hostile Work Environment Claim

Harassment claims consider the totality of facts. In general, a viable harassment claim includes:

  • (1) unwelcome and offensive conduct;

  • (2) the nature of the conduct is based on a protected class or trait, i.e. racially of sexually offensive conduct, or conduct directed against a person because of the person’s protected status, i.e. the individual was targeted because of her or his race or gender; and

  • (3) the conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms or conditions of employment by creating a hostile, abusive, or intimidating working environment.

Any person impacted by the unlawful conduct has a potential claim even if the person asserting the claim was not the target of the unlawful conduct.

An employer is liable when a supervisor engages in harassment resulting in a tangible employment action against the individual in issue. Tangible employment actions include: (1) significant modifications to an employee’s status, i.e. hiring, discharge, or failure to promote; or (2) a decision resulting in a change in benefits, i.e. reduction in pay.

An employer is liable when a supervisor engages in harassment creating a hostile work environment unless the employer proves the following defense:

  • (1) the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any harassing behavior of the type of harassment in issue, i.e. racially harassing behavior; and

  • (2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the employer’s preventive and corrective procedures or otherwise acted to avoid harm.

An employer is liable for hostile work environment harassment, when the objectionable conduct was taken by a co-worker or a person controlled by the employer, and the employer knew, or should have known of the hostile work environment and failed to take prompt and effective remedial action.

Conclusion

Murray Law welcomes the opportunity to provide legal counsel and representation to persons confronting unlawful workplace harassment, a recognized form of employment discrimination. Please call Steven Murray at 720-600-664.

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