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Case before Colorado court could change legal landscape

A case pending before the Colorado Supreme Court currently has the potential to change the landscape of employment law in this state.

Interestingly, this case involves a man who himself worked in human resources for a public hospital. He described his position as one in which part of his job was to prevent employees from being unlawfully or improperly treated.

The man has worked at the hospital for five years before he was terminated, allegedly because he violated a federal law called HIPAA. The HIPAA law is probably best known for its provisions designed to protect the privacy of patients.

For his part, the man says he lost his job about five weeks after starting to report to a new supervisor. According to the man, the supervisor visibly recoiled when the man told the supervisor that he had been married to his husband for almost 30 years.

Because the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, the man has chosen to pursue his former employer for compensation under that law. However, the hospital is now arguing that, because of the way the law is written, government agencies, like the hospital, have immunity from such lawsuits.

The hospital also denies that it discriminated against the man based on sexual orientation.

This employment discrimination case, which the state's highest court will likely decide in the near future, could have a broad impact, as it could lead to a large number of government agencies in this state claiming that, in effect, aggrieved employees have limited remedies.

Those in the Denver area who are concerned about workplace discrimination should pay careful attention to this case as it continues to make its way through the legal system.

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