State Law: Colorado

 

The Law


Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 24, Article 34, Part 4 makes it illegal for an employer or labor organization to discriminate against someone on the basis of sex.


An "employee" under Title 24 is defined as, "any person employed by an employer, except a person in the domestic service of any person." Under Colorado law, an "employer" means, "the state of Colorado or any political subdivision, commission, department, institution, or school district thereof, and every other person employing persons within the state; but it does not mean religious organizations or associations, except such organizations or associations supported in whole or in part by money raised by taxation or public borrowing."


Thus, the Colorado statute against discrimination in the workplace applies to all employers, while Title VII only applies to employers with 15+ employees.


Title 24, Article 34, Part 4 of the Colorado Revised Statutes specifically covers employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion/creed, age, sex, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, marriage to a coworker, national origin, ancestry, and retaliation. Under the Act, it is illegal to harass an employee on the basis of any of these protected classes. However, "harassment is not an illegal act unless a complaint is filed with the appropriate authority at the complainant's workplace and such authority fails to initiate a reasonable investigation of a complaint and take prompt remedial action if appropriate."


Filing A Complaint


The Colorado Civil Rights Division investigates complaints filed with it free of charge. Under state law, complaints must be filed within six months after the date of the last discriminatory act. You may file a complaint with the Division by completing an employment intake form. You can also call the Division at 1-800-262-4845 for more information. The intake packet should be emailed to the Division at ccrd@dora.state.co.us or mailed to: 1560 Broadway Street, Ste 1050, Denver, CO 80202.


Once the intake packet is completed, a charge of discrimination will be prepared for you by Division staff, which you must sign. The Division will send your employer a copy of your charge, stating that you believe you were/are being discriminated against. The employer will have an opportunity to respond to this complaint.


In some cases, the Division may try to mediate the charge of discrimination between you and the employer. If this fails, an investigation will be conducted. The Division has 270 days from the date of your charge to make a determination, though this time limit can be extended. After an investigation is completed, the Director will make either a "probable cause" or "no probable cause" determination.


If "probable cause" is found by the Director, you must attend a mandatory conciliation conference with your employer in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. If settlement negotiations fail, the Director may choose to issue a Notice of a Right to Sue, or your case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge within 120 days after notice of the hearing is served. You may be represented by an attorney of your choosing.


You may decide to go through the federal or state court process instead of the Division's investigative process. You must first file with the EEOC or Colorado Civil Rights Division and request a "Notice of Right to Sue" in order to file in court. The attorney you hire will explain this process to you. Many Colorado attorneys choose to file employment discrimination cases in federal court. However, most cases may be brought in either state or federal court. State law limits the amount of damages you can receive and attorney fees. In addition, Colorado does not allow for a trial by jury.


For more information and a more detailed explanation of the complaint process, please visit the Colorado Civil Rights Division website.