EEO Handbook Statement: Utah

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include This Statement

Utah employers should include this statement in their handbook. Utah has a number of laws addressing discrimination and/or harassment, which differ in terms of what characteristics they protect and what employers are covered.

The Utah Antidiscrimination Act (UADA) applies to employers employing 15 or more employees within the state for each working day in each of 20 calendar weeks or more in the current or preceding calendar year. Employers do not include religious organizations, religious corporations, religious associations, religious societies, religious educational institutions, religious leaders (when acting in the capacity of a religious leader) or the affiliate, wholly owned subsidiary or agency of a religious organization, corporation sole, religious association or religious society.  Employers also do not include any business on or near an Indian reservation giving preferential treatment to Native American Indians living on or near that Indian reservation or the Boy Scouts of America.  

Utah's Genetic Testing Privacy Act applies to private employers and independent contractors with one or more employees, including employees under contracts of hire. Domestic employers that do not employ one or more employees at least 40 hours per week are exempt. Another Utah law makes it unlawful for any Utah employer to discriminate in hiring on the basis of an applicant's membership in any reserve component of the armed forces.

This policy can be customized to include only those categories protected under the laws applicable to each employer. However, even Utah employers that do not have enough employees to meet the threshold for a specific law (e.g., the 15 or more employee to be covered under the UADA) should still consider including those categories in their equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy statement. Including these categories allows employers to be compliant in the event that they add enough employees to meet the threshold number. Also, employers may be subject to other types of claims or liability on the basis of discriminatory conduct.

It is important to be aware that employers assume some risk by adopting a policy with protections the employer is not legally required to provide (e.g., a claim that the employer created a contractual promise to not discriminate on those bases). Accordingly, employers should include additional protections in a policy statement only if they intend to implement and comply with them.

Employers should consult legal counsel for assistance in customizing a policy statement regarding Utah's antidiscrimination laws.

Customizable Handbook Statement

Equal Employment Opportunity

As set forth in the National Handbook, [Company Name] is committed to equal employment opportunity and to compliance with federal antidiscrimination laws. We also comply with Utah law, which prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees or applicants for employment based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth, pregnancy-related conditions, breastfeeding and medical conditions relating to breastfeeding), sexual orientation and gender identity, age (40 and over), national origin, disability, genetic information and membership in the armed forces or reserves. The Company will not tolerate discrimination or harassment based upon these characteristics or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

The Company also does not discriminate against employees due to their lawful expression or expressive activity outside the workplace of their religious, political or personal convictions, unless that expression or expressive activity is in conflict with the Company's essential business-related interests.

Guidance for Employers

  • This statement is intended to be used together with a federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy statement.
  • In addition to the federal EEO laws, Utah employers must comply with a number of state and local antidiscrimination laws, including the Utah Antidiscrimination Act (UADA).
  • Effective May 12, 2015, Utah employers may not discriminate against employees for breastfeeding (or medical conditions relating to breastfeeding) or base an employment decision on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
  • Under the amended UADA, employers may continue to enforce certain workplace policies and procedures so long as those policies and procedures do not discriminate based on an employee's gender identity. The law does not prohibit employers from adopting reasonable dress and grooming standards that are not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law, provided that these standards afford reasonable accommodations based on gender identity to all employees. Employers may also adopt and enforce reasonable rules and policies that designate sex-specific facilities, including restrooms, shower facilities and dressing facilities, again provided that such rules and policies afford reasonable accommodations based on gender identity.
  • The UADA trumps any local law prohibiting employment discrimination.  This is a significant provision because several localities in Utah have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including Salt Lake County, Summit County, Grand County, Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Ogden and Logan, among others.
  • "Gender identity" has the meaning provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) and can be shown by providing evidence, including, but not limited to: medical history, care or treatment of the gender identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender identity or other evidence that the gender identity is a sincerely held part of a person's core identity, and not being asserted for an improper purpose. "Sexual orientation" means an individual's actual or perceived orientation as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
  • Under the UADA, employers may not refuse to hire, promote, terminate or demote any person or retaliate against, harass or discriminate against employees or applicants for employment based on the individual's race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth, pregnancy-related conditions, breastfeeding and medical conditions relating to breastfeeding), sexual orientation and gender identity, age (40 and over), national origin or disability.
  • The UADA may not be interpreted to infringe on an individual's rights of expressive association or the free exercise of religion protected by the state and federal Constitutions. The UADA protects an employee's ability to 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 essential business-related interests of the employer.
  • Under the UADA, employers may not discriminate against an employee due to his or her lawful expression or expressive activity outside of the workplace regarding the employee's religious, political, or personal convictions, including convictions about marriage, family or sexuality, unless the expression or expressive activity is in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.
  • The UADA prohibits paying different wages to employees who have substantially equal experience, responsibilities and skill for a particular job.
  • The Genetic Testing Privacy Act prohibits Utah employers from using genetic tests or private genetic information for discriminatory purposes. Employers cannot request or require employees or applicants to provide or consent to release private genetic information for purposes of hiring, promotion, retention or other related employment decisions.
  • Utah law makes it unlawful for any employer to discriminate in hiring on the basis of an applicant's membership in any reserve component of the armed forces.
  • In addition to federal and state antidiscrimination laws, employers may be subject to local laws prohibiting discrimination. Some of these laws may include categories not protected under federal and state law and/or may extend to smaller employers than those covered under the federal and state laws. Employers should ensure that they are aware of and compliant with the local law in jurisdictions where they have operations and adjust EEO policies as appropriate.
  • A critical component of achieving and supporting diversity in the workplace is ensuring that antidiscrimination policies are communicated effectively and enforced uniformly.
  • Ensure that the EEO policy is reviewed and well-understood by all employees. For managers and supervisors, provide additional training on how to respond to complaints or incidents of discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

Additional Resources

EEO Handbook Statement [15-19 Employees]: Federal

EEO Handbook Statement [20+ Employees]: Federal

EEO Protected Classes by State and Municipality