Regardless of whether you are a member of a protected class or not, it’s important to understand the anti-discrimination laws and how they have changed over the years. In Colorado, the main one is the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). It originally passed in 2013 and additions to it went into effect on January 1, 2015. The main difference between CADA and the federal anti-discrimination laws is that CADA applies to all Colorado employers no matter how few employees they have. Most of the federal laws only apply to employers with at least 15 employees.
What does the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act cover?
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin or ancestry. It also guarantees equal access to public accommodations and housing. Public accommodations include most businesses that offer products or services to the public, such as restaurants, retail stores, health clubs, and even hospitals and clinics. In Colorado, it’s illegal for one of these places to deny someone the available goods and services because they are a member of any of the protected classes listed above. The part of the law that covers housing protects those same people from discriminatory financing, refusal to rent, unequal terms and conditions, failure to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities, and retaliation for exercising these rights.
Some of the changes that were added in January 2015 include:
- Employees can now file discrimination lawsuits under state law vs. federal law.
- In addition to back pay and equitable relief (i.e. reinstatement), employees can now seek to recover punitive and compensatory damages such as emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience and other losses not directly relating to or consisting of money (a.k.a. non-pecuniary losses).
- The courts now have the discretionary power to award aggrieved employees attorneys’ fees, as well as various fees and cost associated with the actions.
- Employers may be awarded attorneys fees and costs, but only if the court deems the case to be groundless, vexatious, or frivolous.
- Either the employer or the employee can now demand a jury trial.
- To be more in line with federal age discrimination law, there is no longer a maximum age for employees to make a discrimination claim.
What is the process for filing anti-discrimination complaints?
With all of these new laws, it is important to remember that there is a statute of limitations (time limit) from the date of the last alleged discriminatory and/or retaliatory act for when you must file a complaint:
- Employment filing deadline: six (6) months from the act of alleged discrimination (possibly up to 300 days for federal matters)
- Housing filing deadline: one (1) year from the act of alleged discrimination
- Public Accommodations filing deadline: sixty (60) days from the act of alleged discrimination
Therefore, if you feel that you have been discriminated against, it is important to act fast. If you choose to file a complaint yourself, you can read the steps for the Complaint Process online with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, under the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, or DORA. There are different filings that need to happen before these deadlines, so it is important to start as early as possible. And whether you file yourself or get legal representation, know that the Division has 270 days to complete their administrative process (with 90-day extension requests available to both parties) so it can take a while to resolve.
Who can help me with anti-discrimination lawsuits?
The other option is to consult an attorney who is experienced with not only the deadlines and filing procedures, but also all of the state and federal anti-discrimination laws that may apply to your case. If you believe you are the victim of discrimination, it’s important to act quickly and to gather as much evidence as you can, and then contact a local civil rights attorney who can advise you on your case. The Civil Rights Litigation Group has successfully handled many anti-discrimination cases over the past 10 years and we are 100% dedicated to civil rights issues. We offer free consultations so you can find out if you have a legitimate case. Please call us at 720-515-6165.