Utah's Racial Discrimination Laws


Area of Law: 

In every state, including Utah, racial discrimination is an issue that has gained more and more focus from lawmakers as each state strives to create fair workplaces for all employees in all companies.  Overall, this has helped create situations where people of every color, race, and ethnicity can obtain work and pay in equal amounts; however, the system is not infallible.  There are still many cases which involve employers who think that certain types of discrimination are harmless (like racial stereotyping), or that they can get away with discrimination because the employees are afraid to lose their jobs.  There are even cases in Utah when companies have had policies that inadvertently led to discrimination even though the employer was not trying to discriminate.  


The law in Utah states that no person shall be denied work, a promotion, or a certain pay level based on race or skin color.  This means that if two people do the same work and are of two different races, they should both be paid the same amount.  If one employee is given higher pay based on his or her race, then that is of course illegal.  Not all cases of racial discrimination are as clear-cut as that, however.  Often times, comments from co-workers or management can indicate that there are racist opinions in the workplace, which can lead to a hostile work environment. 


If you feel that you have been discriminated against at your job or that you have been asked to participate in discriminatory practices, then you have the right to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the EEOC, in order to get your claim investigated.  There are certain statutes of limitations when it comes to filing a racial discrimination claim, like your claim must be filed within 180 days of the incident in question.  If you are filing based on a single incident of discrimination, then the precise date can be fairly easy to pinpoint.  However, if it is a case where you experienced workplace discrimination over a period of time with the discrimination having stopped for a while but then started up again, in terms of the statute of limitation, you can count the date of the most recent incident as day 1 of your 180.


Some people fail to file a complaint even when they have a clear right to do so because they are afraid of losing their jobs.  Utah law protects employees from being terminated or otherwise disciplined if that employee is acting within legal limits even if he or she ends up having to testify in court against the company.  Retaliating against an employee for reporting unfair or illegal practices is an offense in itself that is highly punishable.  The intention is to reduce the threat against employees for standing up for their rights and to encourage as many people as possible to report discrimination in the workplace when they come across it.