JJoseph ("Joe") A. Salazar's practice focuses on cases involving employment law, civil rights and constitutional law issues. He also serves as a member of the Colorado House of Representatives. In 2012, Super Lawyers recognized Joe as a Rising Star in the area of civil rights and constitutional law.
In Joe's practice at Smith, Shellenberger & Salazar, LLC, he regularly consults with employers, employees, public institutions and community groups on conflict resolution techniques. Joe stresses the importance of preventing legal problems by improving work environments, community dialogue, and communication between adverse parties.
Joe's primary goal is to take on cases that have a wide substantial impact on Colorado communities and businesses. He was the first attorney in the history of Colorado to successfully bring employment discrimination claims in front of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against individuals for their participation in retaliating against protected employees. Also, he has been highly successful in representing clients against federal, state, and local governments in cases involving employment and constitutional issues. For the past 3 years, Joe has received a 100% rating from both the Women’s Lobby of Colorado and Colorado Conservation Voters, which is Colorado's premier environmental group.
Prior to becoming a partner at Smith, Shellenberger & Salazar, LLC, Joe founded and operated his own law firm, The Salazar Consultant Group, LLC. From 2004 to 2012, while at The Salazar Consultant Group, LLC, Joe distinguished himself in the fields of employment law, civil rights, and constitutional law. His distinguished talent in those fields continues to provide the foundation of his existing legal practice.
In March 2010, Joe won his first Colorado Supreme Court case when the Court denied certiorari to the City and County of Denver in appeal of a Colorado Court of Appeals decision ordering the City to produce public records a person who was the subject of the record. Gonzales v. City and County of Denver, No. 09SC1033, 2010 WL 706058 (March 1, 2010). In 2006, Joe won his first published Colorado Court of Appeals decision involving the termination of a state employee whose statutory and constitutional rights were violated by the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration. Martinez v. Dep’t of Personnel and Admin. 159 P.3d 631 (Colo.App. 2006). Joe previously served as an Adjunct Professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, where he taught the upper-level course, Chicanos and the Law.
Joe is also heavily involved in sociopolitical events occurring within Colorado. His focus has primarily been on healthcare access, education, and civil rights issues. Joe has founded, led, or been a member of several organizations, including Sigma Lambda Beta International Latino Fraternity, Inc., the Ethnic Student Coalition, Hispanic Health Coalition of Colorado, LARASA, and the Colorado Latino Forum.
With respect to the Colorado Latino Forum, Joe developed the Concept Paper upon which the organization is founded. The Concept Paper has received wide acclaim from public officials and community members because of its focus on the promotion of broad and inclusive community support to further Chicano/Latino issues and candidates in the State of Colorado. Because of his work with the Colorado Latino Forum, Joe has briefed numerous state and federal publicly elected officials on policy issues affecting the Chicano/Latino community. He also has testified as an expert witness in the Colorado Legislature on legislation that would have dramatic impacts on minority and disadvantaged communities. In November 2011, Joe made the jump into the political arena when he kicked off his campaign to be a candidate for the Colorado House of Representatives.
Joe also worked as a Contract Attorney for the United States Postal Service from 2006 to 2009. In his role as a Contract Attorney, Joe represented the United States Postal Service in federal district courts in cases involving Title VII, ADEA, the Rehabilitation Act, constitutional due process, and tort claims. From 2003 to 2004, Joe started his legal career as an Attorney at the Law Office of Clara Romero, LLC, in Denver, Colorado, where he was involved in criminal and civil litigation.
Joe obtained his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Denver College of Law in 2003. While in law school, Joe became a founding member of the American Bar Association, Law Student Division, and was a member of the Native American Law Student Association and Latino Law Student Association. Prior to attending law school, Joe served as a civil rights investigator with the State of Colorado, Civil Rights Division, from November 1994 to November 1999, where he investigated over 400 state and federal cases of discrimination involving employment, housing, and places of public accommodations.
Although Joe was engaged in his studies at the the DU College of Law, he never forgot his civil rights roots. During law school, he continued to assist the Civil Rights Division on cases, and his expertise was utilized by the DU College of Law on several occasions in resolving community conflicts. In 2001, the State of Colorado awarded Joe a “Subject Matter Expert” certification in the area of civil rights. He has lectured on civil rights and employment law for the DU College of Law and for various employment law groups. Upon graduating from the DU College of Law, Joe was awarded the coveted John Phillip Linn Employment Law Award, for his excellence in employment law.
Joe is of Chicano heritage, with Spanish and Apache ancestry.