(April 17) – On the way to joining 42 other states, the Colorado House passed a bill on second reading today that will help ensure women, minorities and LGBT members have recourse for workplace discrimination.
HB13-1136, sponsored by Reps. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) and Joe Salazar (D-Thornton), updates Colorado’s current Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by bringing state remedies in line with the federal anti-discrimination law, allowing compensatory and/or punitive damages and attorneys’ fees to be rewarded in cases of intentional discrimination or harassment. But it puts a cap on the amount of punitive damages that can be rewarded based on the size of the company.
“Colorado’s current law is outdated and does not provide the protections or remedies needed to protect Coloradans from being discriminated against in the workplace,” Rep. Levy said. “This bill allows victims of sexual or racial harassment or discrimination to seek justice.”
The bill passed on a voice vote today after a six-hour debate, with those opposed claiming it would hurt small businesses or bring frivolous lawsuits. Contrary to their arguments, 42 other states have implemented similar or stricter measures and have seen no job losses or increase in lawsuits. Rather than focusing on victims of intentional discrimination, the Republicans focused on the lawyers who would represent them.
“Right now, it is illegal to discriminate against workers in Colorado, but there is no real remedy,” Rep. Salazar said. “We should join the 42 other states in standing up for people’s civil rights and say discrimination is wrong and should have penalties.”