The Colorado legislature recently approved significant changes to the state’s employment discrimination laws enshrined in the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”). The modifying legislation, titled “Updates to Employment Discrimination Laws” (HB 22-1367), extends the time within which a worker may allege a violation of CADA, expands CADA’s protections to domestic workers and expands remedies available to employees who allege they have suffered age discrimination. Employers should become familiar with these changes and work with counsel to identify how they could impact their employment practices.
CADA prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on protected class, which includes disability, race, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, national origin, ancestry and pregnancy. Below is a summary of the most important changes to CADA that all Colorado employers and employees should know.
Extension of Time to File a Discrimination Charge
HB 22-1367 extends the time to file a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (“CCRD”). Currently, an employee must file a charge of discrimination within 180 days of the alleged violation. After HB 22-1367’s passage, an employee now has 300 days, nearly an entire year, to file a charge. This change aligns Colorado with federal employment discrimination laws allowing claimants up to 300 days to file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission.
Extension of Time to Investigate and Removal of the Option to Extend
The Act also extends the time the CCRD has to investigate a claim or retain jurisdiction over discrimination charges from the current 270-day timeframe to 450 days. However, HB 22-1367 removes the option for each party to request an extension of the deadline. Previously, each party could request a 90-day extension, which would be routinely granted for good cause. This change recognizes the CCRD’s current backlog. Because the CCRD was not consistently meeting their 270-day deadline, requests for extension were frequently granted without regard for the good-cause requirement.
Expanded Definition of “Employee” and Allowing Consideration of Sex for Child-Care-Related Services
In one of its most significant changes, HB 22-1367 expands the definition of “employee” for the purposes of CADA to include domestic service workers. The definition of employee now reads “any individual employed by an employer.” C.R.S. Section 24-34-401(2). However, HB 22-1367 also includes what is viewed as a “compromise provision” that allows an employer to consider the sex of an applicant when hiring for child-care-related domestic services.
Expanded Remedies in Age Discrimination Suits
Finally, HB 22-1367 expands available remedies to employees in age discrimination lawsuits. Previously, claimants alleging age discrimination against their employer were limited to reinstatement, back pay, front pay, liquidated damages or other equitable relief deemed appropriate. Passage of HB 22-1367 will allow age discrimination plaintiffs to recover punitive damages as well. This stated purpose of this amendment was to conform the remedies available to all individuals who claim to be discriminated or harassed in the workplace.
Gov. Jared Polis signed this bill into law on June 8, 2022, with the changes to Colorado employment discrimination laws to take effect Aug. 10, 2022. HB 22-1367’s prohibitions and requirements are not retroactive, meaning that Colorado employers have less than a few weeks to ensure that their policies and procedures comply. Employers may need to post an updated Anti-Discrimination Notice from the CCRD, should the agency promulgate a notice, and review their anti-discrimination policies to incorporate these changes.