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How is Employment Discrimination Defined in Utah?

— July 7, 2022

If you apply for a job and you are rejected although you meet all the criteria, you may ask yourself whether it was an act of discrimination.

Public and private employees in Utah are protected against discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Utah Anti-Discrimination Act. Both laws prohibit workplace discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, race, color, age, disability, religion, national origin, etc. If you are unfairly treated by your employer or your coworkers on account of a protected characteristic, you need to talk to an experienced Utah employment lawyer and see how you can protect your rights. 

What constitutes discrimination in Utah?

All employees should be treated in the same way. If an employee is singled out for a protected characteristic and persecuted, bullied or harassed, they have the legal right file a discrimination complaint.

Here are a few examples of the most common forms of discrimination. 

Refusal to hire or promote

If you apply for a job and you are rejected although you meet all the criteria, you may ask yourself whether it was an act of discrimination. Some employers refuse to hire people of color, others are prejudiced against women or individuals over the age of 40. If you believe you are discriminated against, reach out to a seasoned employment lawyer in Salt Lake City and see what they make of it. If your lawyer discovers it’s common practice in that company not to hire people of a certain race, age or sex, you have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Utah Labor Commission.

The same goes for those cases when an employee in a protected class is repeatedly overlooked for a promotion or pay raise.

Wrongful termination

You're Fired sign
You’re Fired sign; image courtesy of geralt via Pixabay,

If you are in a protected class and are fired although your job performance is excellent, this may be a form of discrimination. You may be able to file a wrongful termination complaint. 

Sexual harassment 

Sexual harassment falls under sex-based discrimination and is strictly prohibited in Utah. The law defines two types of sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo refers to those situations where a supervisor or an employee at management level is asking for sexual favors. They may use the promise of a promotion or the threat of termination, and both are illegal.

Hostile work environment can be invoked when one or several coworkers make sexist jokes and inappropriate comments, touch you in an unwanted way or pester you with sexually-explicit messages. 

You don’t have to put up with that sort of thing. A sexual harassment lawyer will help you file an internal complaint and assist you during the investigation. You will need legal advice if your employer also brings in a lawyer to look into the matter. 

If the problem is not solved at company level, your lawyer will assist you in filing a complaint with the EEOC. If you cannot agree on a settlement with your employer, you may be able to file a lawsuit. 


Employers in Utah are not allowed to retaliate against anyone filing a complaint or assisting in the investigation of a complaint. Even if it turns out that the complaint was not justified, it is illegal for the employer to retaliate by demoting, withdrawing certain benefits or firing those involved. 

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