The City of Boulder Human Rights Ordinance

The City of Boulder Human Rights Ordinance is a local law that protects against illegal discrimination within the city limits of Boulder.

Summary

The Ordinance specifically affords protection against discrimination in three areas:

  1. Housing
  2. Employment
  3. Public accommodation

Within these three areas, the ordinance prohibits discrimination based on ancestry, color, creed, gender variance, genetic characteristics, immigration status, marital status, mental disability, national origin, physical disability, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and source of income. In housing, it also prohibits discrimination based on custody of a minor child, parenthood and pregnancy. In employment, it also prohibits discrimination based on age, specifically age 40 years and older.

A copy of the Human Rights Ordinance can be found below or by contacting the City of Boulder Office of Human Rights at 303-441-4197.

Why a local Human Rights Ordinance?

There are protections against discrimination at the state and the federal level. So why does Boulder have a city ordinance? When the City Council enacted the Human Rights Ordinance in 1972, there were two primary reasons for creating protection at a local level:

  • Protecting classes which are not protected at the state or federal levels such as sexual orientation, gender variance and genetic characteristics.
  • State and Federal agencies are dealing with a much larger volume of complaints and therefore a complaint at the state or federal level can be a time consuming proposition. The City of Boulder Office of Human Rights is generally able to process complaints more promptly than other larger agencies.

It is important to understand that, in most cases, complainants have a choice of jurisdiction under which to file. Other agencies that enforce civil rights:

Contact the Office of Human Rights regarding either of these two ordinances to inquire if a case falls within its jurisdiction.

File a Discrimination Complaint

Get and submit the form

Contact

  • Contact Ingrid Castro-Campos at castro-camposi@bouldercolorado.gov. or 303-441-4197 to inquire if the case falls within the jurisdiction of the Office of Human Rights or if you have questions about completing the form.

After a Complaint is Filed

The Office of Human Rights will respond in any of the following ways:

  • Confirm that the complaint is within the jurisdiction of the office and the law

  • Contact the respondent (person or organization alleged to have violated the ordinance)

  • Offer mediation services provided by the City of Boulder

  • Assess the complaint and response to the complaint

  • Determine whether or not an investigation is warranted

  • Initiate an investigation

  • Develop a finding, based on the investigation

  • Facilitate resolution

Decisions in discrimination cases can include:

  • Agreement

  • Case dismissed/closed

  • No Probable Cause Finding

  • Probable Cause Finding

  • Appeal/Hearing

Possible outcomes possible in cases of Probable Cause may include:

  • Cease and desist (stop) unfair practices

  • Correct unfair practices

  • Change in policies and practices

  • Displays of posters with civil rights laws

  • Pay actual not punitive damages

  • Report on compliance

Findings of Probable Cause require substantive and verifiable evidence of discrimination.

Protected Classes

Discrimination is unlawful when carried out because of an individual's race, color, sex or other characteristic protected by law. Such characteristics place people into "protected classes." Everyone belongs to a number of protected classes. For example, we all have a race, marital status and sex.

Boulder currently includes these protected classes:

  • Ancestry

  • Color

  • Creed

  • Gender Variance

  • Genetic Characteristics

  • Immigration Status

  • Marital Status

  • Mental Disability

  • National Origin

  • Physical Disability

  • Race

  • Religion

  • Sex

  • Sexual Orientation

  • Source of Income

  • Age*

  • Pregnancy**

  • Parenthood***

  • Custody of a Minor Child ***

This is not to say that someone of a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, or other quality listed above can never be turned down for housing, employment, or public accommodation. It is to say that none of these characteristics can be factors in decisions regarding housing, employment or public accommodation.

* Age (40 years and older) applies only to the area of Employment

** Pregnancy applies to the area of Employment and Housing

*** These protected classes apply only to the area of Housing

Employment Discrimination

The City of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance protects against discrimination in Employment based on membership in a protected class. Violations of the ordinance include considering protected classes in employment policies and practices such as:

  • Job advertisements

  • Hiring processes (Application, Interview, Selection)

  • Pay rates and Benefits allocations

  • Promotion, Demotion, Layoffs

  • Termination, Firing

This local law applies to businesses and employers within the Boulder city limits, including:

  • Employment Agencies

  • Labor Organizations

  • Nonprofit Organizations

  • On-the-job training and vocational training programs and schools

Religious organizations are exempted when there is a bona fide religious purpose for an employment restriction.

The deadline for filing a complaint of discrimination in Employment is within 180 calendar days of the alleged violation.

Housing Discrimination

The City of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance protects against discrimination in Housing.

The following are examples of actions by housing providers which are prohibited when based on membership in a protected class:

  • Refusing to show, rent or sell

  • Charging higher rates to buy or rent

  • Asking for a larger or additional security deposit

  • Advertising a preference for a certain type of person to buy or rent a living unit

  • Denying access or use of the facility or service that is normally available with occupancy

  • Refusing to allow reasonable accommodations for an aide, service animal, parking, or physical modification

This local law applies to housing professionals and individuals within the Boulder city limits, including:

  • Real Estate Firms

  • Leasing Agents

  • Lenders and Bankers

  • Appraisers

  • Landlords

The deadline for filing a complaint of discrimination in Housing is within one year of the alleged violation.

Public Accommodation Discrimination

The City of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance protects against discrimination in public accommodation. It is a violation of the ordinance to withhold or deny the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, or advantages of a place of public accommodation because of membership in a protected class.

This law applies to any place of public accommodation in the city limits of Boulder. A place of public accommodation is defined as:

"any place of business engaged in any sales to the general public and any place that offers services, facilities, privileges, or advantages to the general public or that receives financial support through solicitation of the general public or through governmental subsidy of any kind."

Some examples of places of public accommodation are:

  • Retail stores

  • Restaurants

  • Health clubs

  • Movie theaters

Deadline for filing a complaint of discrimination in Public Accommodation is within 60 calendar days of the alleged violation.

Gender Variance Discrimination

Introduction

Boulder's local human rights ordinance, which prohibits discrimination within the city limits of Boulder, now protects against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on gender variance.

On Feb. 1, 2000 , the Boulder City Council unanimously voted to add gender variance to the forms of discrimination prohibited under the local human rights ordinance. Gender variance is defined as the "persistent sense that a person's gender identity is incongruent with the person's biological sex." The definition further excludes "the element of persistence for persons under the age of 21 and including, without limitation, transitioned transsexuals."

Background

This ordinance change was initiated by requests from community members, and was recommended to City Council by the Human Relations Commission. Key HRC findings, based on extensive study and public hearings, include the following:

  • Discrimination does currently exist in Boulder with regard to transgendered status. Nationally, there have been many horrible and concerning incidents. Some have resulted in death. While the situation in Boulder is acknowledged to be generally more accepting and supportive, there is concern that transgender persons do suffer hardships due to discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. This can affect people's basic civil rights--including their ability to get and keep jobs, have a place to live and get services in the community.

  • The resident's group has also stressed that transgendered persons are present in every race, every culture, and that every epoch of recorded history includes evidence of the existence of transgendered persons. They work in many types of fields: transgendered physicians, college professors, teachers, bankers, attorneys, and auto mechanics. Transgendered persons are subjected to humiliation, harassment and discrimination.

  • The process of coming out and transitioning as transgendered is a complex and arduous experience, and not an experience entered into frivolously or capriciously.

General Provisions

This change adds gender variance to the list of classes protected by law against discrimination. Other legally protected classes include race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, national origin, ancestry, and mental or physical disability, genetic characteristics. Additionally, in housing discrimination is prohibited based on parenthood, pregnancy or custody of a minor child. Further, in employment, discrimination is prohibited based on age, specifically between the ages of 40 and 65 years.

The human rights ordinance affords protection against discrimination in three areas:

  • Housing

  • Employment

  • Public Accommodations (any place of business engaged in sales or services)

This is not to say that someone of a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, or other quality listed above can never be turned down for housing, employment, or public accommodation. It is to say that none of these characteristics can be factors in decisions regarding housing, employment, or public accommodations.

Provisions Specific to Gender Variance

Several specific issues are addressed in the ordinance relative to gender variance, including:

  • Permits workplace supervisors to require reasonably consistent gender presentation of workers.

  • Requires that a worker not change gender presentation in the workplace more than three times in any 18-month period.

  • Does not include any requirements regarding bathrooms.

  • Requires reasonable accommodation of transitioned and transitioning transsexuals in locker rooms and shower facilities.

  • Adds exemptions to gender variance discrimination for sports and for sex-segregated housing for persons under age 25.

File a Failure to Pay Wages Ordinance Complaint

Learn More

Protects workers from non-payment of wages owed them.

File a Complaint

  1. Fill out a Form

    You may fill out a wage complaint form in two ways:

  2. Submit the Form

    You may submit a hard-copy of this form in two ways:

    • Mail the form to the City of Boulder Office of Human Rights, 2160 Spruce Street, Boulder CO 80302; or
    • Drop off the form in person Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

After You Submit

After you have submitted this form, you will be contacted to discuss your complaint. If you have questions or need assistance completing the form, please call the Office of Human Rights at 303-441-4197 or email HumanRights@bouldercolorado.gov. A staff member will typically reply within two business days.

  • When you submit this form, you will receive a confirmation email that includes the information you entered into the complaint form.
  • Please keep this confirmation email for your records.