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Employment discrimination: Colorado hospital worker wins appeal

In the United States, there are state and federal laws that are meant to protect the well-being and legal rights of employees in the workplace. There are laws requiring certain safety measures, laws that call for minimum wages to be paid and laws to protect employees from discrimination. The unfortunate fact, however, is that sometimes employers do not comply with these laws and regulations, and when that happens, an employee is entitled to file a civil claim to recover compensation.

One such instance of employment discrimination in Colorado was said to have occurred at the Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, about 150 miles west of Denver. A former employee of the hospital filed a civil lawsuit over what she claims were racist comments and jokes from two of her supervisors. The lawsuit was originally dismissed by the trial court, but an appeals court recently overturned that decision, allowing the former employee to continue with her lawsuit.

The issue in court was whether or not the evidence supplied in the case sufficiently constituted a hostile workplace environment. The trial court initially ruled that not enough evidence was provided, even as the court acknowledged that the plaintiff's supervisors had behaved poorly. But the appeals court thought otherwise, holding that there was enough evidence so that a jury could conceivably reach a conclusion that the behavior involved did create a hostile work environment.

When an employer violates one of the laws meant to protect workers, the employer should expect to be held accountable. As of now, the former employee in this case will continue with her lawsuit. Having crossed one hurdle in the process, she may be on the path to resolving her claims.

Source: Law Week Colorado, "Court Allows Workplace Discrimination Lawsuit To Proceed," David Forster, June 27, 2012

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