Representative Claire Levy, D-Boulder, joined by thirty other co-sponsors in the House, introduced the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013, HB 13-1136. This bill would allow the additional remedies of compensatory and punitive damages and awards of reasonable attorney fees in employment discrimination cases brought under Colorado’s state law against employers where intentional discrimination is proven. In essence, it would put our state civil rights statute on par with the majority of other states and the federal laws with regard to remedies available to employees who have been wrongly discriminated against. This is particularly significant because although employees can bring cases under the federal laws which already allow for such damages, those laws only apply to employers who employ 15 or more employees.
In addition, employees who are victims of discrimination based upon their sexual orientation are not afforded protections under the federal law as they are under Colorado law. Thus, under our current law employees who work for employers with fewer than 15 employees or who claim discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are not allowed compensatory or punitive damages and cannot recover reasonable attorney fees when they prove a case of intentional employment discrimination. The Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013 would give teeth to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and demonstrate that Colorado has a true commitment to the equal rights of its citizens and is not just giving lip service to the idea of civil rights. This is a bill many groups will be watching closely, stay tuned…
In addition, Representative Angela Williams, D-Denver, was joined by Senator Jessie Ulibarri, D-Adams County, in introducing the Employee User Name and Password Privacy Protection Act, HB 13-1046. This bill prohibits employers from requiring current employees or job applicants to disclose a user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communications device. This bill is in response to a recent trend among employers to request that job applicants allow the employer to view social media such as personal FaceBook pages as a condition of employment.
Other bills to watch for their potential impact on individual employees’ rights are:
- HB13-1054, Lessening the Reduction of Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Withdrawal from Retirement Funds.
- SB13-023, Concerning Damages Caps under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.
- SB13-018, Permissible Use of Credit Information by Employers
- HB13-1107, Prohibiting Collective Bargaining of Public Employees
- HB13-1106 and SB13-024, Prohibiting Discrimination in Labor Union Participation
- SB13-017, Opt-In Opt-Out Option for Teacher’s Union Membership.
- SB13-025, Concerning Collective Bargaining for Firefighters
- SB13-141, School Employee Participation in Labor Unions
Like I said, a lot of action on the employment front in Colorado and nationally this year, and it’s only the beginning of the session.
- Written by Mary Jo Lowrey