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Colorado Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity and Expression

Effective September 11, 2021, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) is amended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

Under the law, gender identity is defined as an individual’s innate sense of gender, which may or may not correspond with the individual’s sex assigned at birth. The law also defines gender expression to mean an individual’s way of reflecting and expressing gender to the outside world, typically demonstrated through appearance, dress and behavior. The definition of sexual orientation under the CADA is also amended.

The amendment means employers are now prohibited from refusing to hire, discharge, promote or demote, harass, or “discriminate in matters of compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment” against an individual based on gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should consider taking the following actions to ensure they are creating a workplace that protects and welcomes all LGBTQ+ employees:

  • Ensure the Company’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Non-Harassment/Non-Discrimination policies incorporate protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and transgender status.
  • Create a welcoming workplace. Company leaders and human resources staff should become familiar with, and comfortable using, the correct terminology and inclusive language, such as the use of proper pronouns. Leaders should ensure the Company’s values include diversity and inclusion and that these values are communicated by the highest leadership of the Company in a manner that demonstrates full engagement and buy-in.
  • Ensure training materials and the content of any equal employment opportunity, non-harassment or non-discrimination training includes information and examples of prohibited harassment or discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Review the Company’s benefits policies to ensure they provide coverage equally, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation or transgender status.
  • Review dress code/grooming policies to ensure they are gender-neutral and broad enough so employees of any gender feel comfortable physically presenting themselves in the workplace.
  • Incorporate best practices in company procedures, such as offering all employees the option of adding pronouns to their email signatures, addressing employees by their preferred name and pronouns, using an employee’s preferred name on internal communications and company websites, and encouraging the use of inclusive, gender-neutral language in the workplace, such as “they or them” versus “he/she or him/her.”

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.