Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

ACLU Takes Action on Behalf of Jeffco Teacher Fired for Pumping Breast Milk at Work

Action Marks First Legal Challenge to Enforce Colorado’s 2008 Workplace Nursing Mothers Act

DENVER – The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project took action today against a Jefferson County public charter school that fired a teacher for asserting her right to pump breast milk while at work, in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The ACLU filed a state notice of claim against the school as well as a federal complaint of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, signaling the ACLU’s intent to file a formal lawsuit.

Heather Burgbacher had been a highly valued teacher at the Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen (RMAE) for the past five years. She received consistently positive workplace evaluations, but the school refused to renew her contract this year because she stood up for her right to express milk for her newborn baby at work. That right is explicitly guaranteed by the Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act, passed by the Colorado state legislature in 2008.

“All too often breastfeeding mothers experience harassment and discrimination when trying to pump breast milk during the work day,” said ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Rebecca T. Wallace. “But Colorado law explicitly states that no mother should have to choose between breastfeeding her baby and keeping her job. Yet that’s precisely the position in which RMAE placed Ms. Burgbacher.”

The Colorado statute unequivocally recognizes the societal and health benefits of breastfeeding and requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to allow new mothers to express milk at work. The ACLU’s two legal filings invoke the protections of the 2008 statute, as well as federal laws against sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation for protesting such violations.

In late 2010, Burgbacher arranged for her students to do supervised deskwork for the very brief periods during which she needed to pump breast milk—which amounted to only 20 minutes, three times each week. Even though Burgbacher found coverage for her classes during these brief periods, her supervisors resisted this accommodation until forced to accept it through mediation. Shortly thereafter, in February 2011, Burgbacher was informed that her contract would not be renewed. Her supervisor made clear that the termination was not due to Burgbacher’s job performance, but only because of the “conflict” over her pumping schedule.

“Colorado’s state statute removes any doubt that working mothers have a right to pump breast milk at work,” said attorney Mari Newman, of Killmer, Lane & Newman LLP. “Discrimination against breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is not only illegal, it’s also bad for Colorado families and businesses because it forces women to choose between breastfeeding their babies or returning to the workplace after giving birth.”

Women who breast feed must pump milk regularly throughout the day to ensure that they will keep lactating. During discussions about her pumping schedule, one of Burgbacher’s supervisors informed her that RMAE would not accommodate her need to pump and suggested that she feed her baby formula instead.

“In order to achieve full equality for women, our workplace policies must take into account that breastfeeding is a reality in the lives of many women workers, and make necessary accommodations,” said Galen Sherwin, staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “Employers should certainly have no say in a woman’s personal decision whether to breast feed her baby.”

Burgbacher, the ACLU client, said: “I was only trying to do what all medical experts agree is best for our baby. As a result I was bullied and had my rights violated. I just want to ensure that no other nursing mother – especially in Colorado where we have a law meant specifically to protect us – has to go through what I went through.”

For more information on this case, please visit:

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