New Utah Law Applies to Employers with 15 or More Employees

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to Be Prohibited Bases for Discrimination in Employment

A new law, effective May 11, 2015, includes sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases for discrimination under the state’s employment nondiscrimination law (generally applicable to employers with 15 or more employees). The law also addresses employees’ free speech rights, both inside and outside of the workplace.

Because of sexual orientation or gender identity, a covered employer generally may not take any of the following actions against an otherwise qualified employee or applicant:

  1. Refuse to hire, promote, discharge, demote, terminate;
  2. Retaliate against; or
  3. Discriminate in matters of compensation; or in terms, privileges, and conditions of employment.


The law does not prohibit an employer from:

  1. Adopting reasonable dress and grooming standards (not prohibited by other federal or state laws) and reasonable rules/policies that designate sex-specific facilities (e.g., restrooms, shower facilities, and dressing facilities)—provided that such standards, rules, and policies afford reasonable accommodations based on gender identity to all employees.


The law also addresses employees’ free speech—inside and outside of the workplace—as follows:

  • An employee may express his or her religious or moral beliefs and commitments in the workplace in a reasonable, non-disruptive, and non-harassing way on equal terms with similar types of expression of beliefs or commitments allowed by the employer in the workplace, unless the expression is in direct conflict with the employer’s essential business-related interests.


  • An employer may not discharge, demote, terminate, or refuse to hire any person, or retaliate against, harass, or discriminate in matters of compensation or in terms, privileges, and  conditions of employment against any person otherwise qualified, for lawful expression or expressive activity outside of the workplace regarding his or her religious, political, or personal convictions (including convictions about marriage, family, or sexuality), unless the expression or expressive activity is in direct conflict with the employer’s essential business-related interests.


Click here to read the text of the law.