Colorado’s State Anti-Discrimination Agency Reauthorized
Last week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill re-authorizing both the Colorado Civil Rights Division (“CCRD”), which is the Colorado agency charged with enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations; and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (“Commission”), which is a seven-person board that develops policies and conducts hearings regarding alleged discrimination.FN1 The legislative action, which ended months of “trench warfare” on the issue,FN2 ensures that the CCRD will receive funding and continue operations.
Colorado employers should respond to employees’ CCRD charges to ensure the agency evaluates the company’s defenses while investigating employees’ claims. Information provided in response to a CCRD charge may result in dismissal of the charge. Although dismissal of a charge will not prevent an employee from filing a legal claim, it practically will minimize the likelihood an employee will bring a lawsuit.
FN1: Marianne Goodland, 11th hour compromise over Colo. civil rights panel in legislature, Colorado Politics (May 9, 2018), https://coloradopolitics.com/civil-rights-reauthorization-failure/; Jesse Paul, Hickenlooper Signs Bill Reauthorizing Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Capping Its Down-to-the Wire Passage, Denver Post (May 22, 2018), https://www.denverpost.com/2018/05/22/colorado-civil-rights-commission-reauthorized-2027/.
FN2: Senate Unanimously Passes Bill Continuing the Colorado Civil Rights Division, Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry, Colorado Capital Report (Apr. 30, 2018), http://cochamber.com/2018/04/30/senate-unanimously-passes-bill-continuing-the-colorado-civil-rights-division/. The bill signed by the Governor modified the make-up of the Commission so that two members are the majority owners of small- and medium-sized businesses and another represents a chamber of commerce. Colo. HB 18-1256,https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2018A/bills/2018a_1256_signed.pdf; John Herrick, In Waning Hours of Session, State Lawmakers Reauthorized the Embattled Colorado Civil Rights Division, Colorado Independent (May 10, 2018), http://www.coloradoindependent.com/170169/civil-rights-commission-reauthorized-deal.