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Colorado Civil Rights

Colorado Civil Rights

Posted on September 19, 2014

Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA)

Colorado has its own anti-discrimination statute that reflects the safeguards offered by federal law in many respects (Hazard, Esq. and Thomas, Esq., “Chapter 22: Employment and Immigration Law in the Colorado Construction Industry”). The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), though, is greatly more extensive than federal anti-discrimination laws in its treatment of employers. Employers protected under the CADA consist of the State of Colorado, every political sector, school districts, employment agencies, labor groups, apprenticeship teaching programs, in addition to “‘every other person employing persons within the state’” (Hazard, Esq. and Thomas, Esq.) Therefore, the CADA is relevant to employers with at least two employees.

Furthermore, the CADA consists of the three following safeguards not located in federal anti-discrimination laws:

  • With restricted exceptions, employers might not fire an employee, or decline to employ an individual, only on the foundation that that individual is married or intends to marry co-worker. The exceptions are if one spouse possesses a decision-making position over the other; if one spouse is assigned monies obtained or tackled by the other spouse; or if one spouse can access the employer’s private information, as well as payroll and staff records.
  • The CADA makes it a unfair custom for employers to fire an employee because of the employee’s participation in any not at work, not at site legal activity, unless the limitation concerns a genuine work-related condition or is sensibly and logically concerned with work performance or required to circumvent a conflict of interest. While originally created to safeguard smokers, honest supporters of ostracized causes, and individuals who did not pass drug tests because of their not at work alcohol or prescription drug use, have utilized the statute to dispute their firing based on legal, not at work behavior. Unlike other CADA provisions, the wronged employee might sue the employer without initially filing a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. While the law at first took care of an award of expenses and attorney fees to the dominant party, the statute was modified in 2007 to present that just dominant employees may recuperate their attorney fees.
  • In 2007, the CADA was modified to stop office discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. In ratifying the new law, Colorado joins an increasing number of states that safeguard against work prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


The 2013 Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act

On May 6, 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper endorsed into law the 2013 Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act, which modifies the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), the state law stopping employment discrimination due to disability, race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion age, national origin, or ancestry (Marquess and Chorba, “Major Changes to Colorado Discrimination Law Will Negatively Impact Employers Large and Small”). Starting with cases occurring on or after January 1, 2015, plaintiffs pursuing claims under the CADA might recuperate both financial and non-financial compensation from employers—as well as small business with at most fifteen employees—who are discovered to be responsible for taking part in office discrimination.



Front Pay and “Any Other Equitable Remedies”

The Act sanctions new penalties for CADA violations. If a court or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission deems an employer has taken part in a unjust or biased job custom, the employee might be permitted the following relief: (1) restoration or employment, with or without back pay; (2) front pay; and any other equitable relief that either the court or the Commission deems suitable.

Where the Commission or court charges back pay, the employer’s responsibility is restricted to two years before the date on which the plaintiff filed his or her Charge of Discrimination with Colorado Civil Rights Division. The amount might be counterbalanced, though, by the total of the plaintiff’s real income or income that he or she could have made with sensible meticulousness during the pertinent interval.

Attorneys’ Fees for the Dominant Plaintiff

The Act sanctions courts to give the dominant plaintiff sensible attorneys’ fees and costs. The new law, though, does not continue the similar right of recovery to dominant employers, unless the court believes that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was trivial, unwarranted, or vexatious.

Compensatory and Punitive Damages, or Liquidated Damages in Age Discrimination Cases

Where private sector employers take part in deliberate biased or unfair job customs, the Act also permits courts to grant punitive and compensatory damages, excluding in age discrimination cases. It does take care, though, of the recuperation of liquidated damages equal to two times the employee’s pecuniary damages in deliberate age discrimination cases. Recuperation of non-financial damages does not continue to job customs that are illegal only due to their unrelated influence.


Under many federal discrimination laws for many years, employees could recuperate compensatory and punitive damages from employers with at least fifteen employees. Now, with the passing of this new law, employers with at most fifteen employees might be responsible for compensatory and punitive damages in addition to attorney fees under state law.

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