Senate advances repeal of Colorado Civil Rights Act

Senate advances repeal of Colorado Civil Rights Act

Republicans in the Senate again used their new majority to strike out at a measure passed during the 2013 Democratic super-majority session.

The latest policy targeted is the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act, which lawmakers on the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee yesterday voted to repeal. Republican members of the committee were joined by Wheat Ridge Democrat Cheri Jahn, who called the state’s Civil Rights Act the “sue your boss” act.

The Act, which just took effect this January, expanded existing federal employee nondiscrimination protections, such as restitution of legal fees and damages, to include small businesses with fewer than 15 employees. In addition, the new protections added coverage for complaints of age- and sexual orientation-based discrimination.

Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada, sponsored the repeal, saying the law puts small businesses at too much risk. Her SB 69 would remove the entire state Civil Rights Act, except for the provision protecting employees 70 years or older.

“For most small businesses, just one claim that has to be investigated is all it would take to force a company out of business,” said Woods, noting that just defending against a claim can cost as much as $100,000.

Woods also emphasized that according to 2013-2014 data from the Colorado Civil Rights Division, of the roughly 300 claims of discrimination filed in the last two years, only 17 were found to have probable cause.

Physician and Senator Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, equated that statistic to the number of malpractice lawsuits with merit, arguing that nobody really wants a medical system without any remedies for poor practice.

“I guess I think my role is to represent my constituents, and my constituents are people, not businesses,” said Aguilar. “So I’d have a disagreement with you about who I’m here to protect.” 

Forty-two other states have written similar nondiscrimination protections into state law. In Colorado there are caps for the amount of damages an employee can garner from a small business beginning with $10,000, for a company of one to four employees.

The repeal, which passed 6-3, now heads to the appropriations committee.

Rachel Martinez, who faced sexual harassment at a small business, testifies in opposition to the Colorado Civil Rights Act repeal. Seated beside her is the repeal’s sponsor, Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada. Image by Tessa Cheek.  

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About the Author

Tessa Cheek

She writes and makes photos about communities. Her book, Great Wall Style, a monograph-profile-lyric essay, is out from Images Publishing. tcheek@coloradoindependent.com | 720-440-2527 | @tessacheek

6 Comments

  1. Wilol Morrison on said:

    There are reasons I will NEVER vote for ANY republican, and this is one of them. That party has NO idea what those of out here are living with, especially after the last 35+ years of DOING it to us. THIS is the party that broke our unions and provided us with NO protections in their stead, the party that is working actively to KEEP AMERICANS from voting, the most BASIC of our rights and responsibilities, the party that is working ACTIVELY AGAINST the average American. And THIS is what I’m supposed to say “yes, give me more of THAT!”?

    What is the POINT of this repeal? WHO is this going to help OTHER than CROOKED EMPLOYERS? And of course, that is what the right WANTS in this country. Us with NO power, NO rights, NO ability to affect change in our OWN country at all. And this is what they are working for EVERY FREAKING DAY.

    Why ANYONE would vote for a party that ACTIVELY HATES YOU AND YOUR LIFE is purely beyond me. How much MORE OBVIOUS do they have to be? Do they need to come out of congress and start shooting people before you believe what they are doing to this country? How the HELL CAN ANYONE the THAT brain dead to vote for those who HATE you?

    Great job, republicans, you’re doing what you can to take away what LITTLE we have left after the nonsense of TABOR and the rest. HOW is THIS supposed to make ANYTHING BETTER in this state? Or is this, like I believe, just one MORE kiss off to big business and the freaking WAY TOO rich?

    You people suck.

  2. Will Morrison on said:

    So I guess one can’t express disgust for the things the GOP is doing in this state without your comment getting taken down. Didn’t even make it 24 hours. Great!

    So much for discussion about what the hell is going on in this state. Apparently you don’t WANT our input. WHY bother having comments then, if you’re just going to trash the ones you disagree with?

    Thanks a LOT, I’ll remember this and you won’t have to worry about me posting here EVER again. If everything just gets taken down because you don’t like it, then why even BOTHER having an opinion?

  3. John Tomasic on said:

    Hi Will. No post was taken down intentionally. It may have been cleared out by the spam robot. I will look for it. Apologies.

  4. Will Morrison on said:

    Hi John.

    I was wondering what was going on, because I’ve never had a post removed here ever. And the one I posted (albeit with a misspelled name) wasn’t terribly offensive, just truthful. Hardly swore at all.

    What bothers me the most about this site is how little discussion ever happens here. It’s almost like people in this state just don’t CARE what happens here. With the stuff that is going on here, you’d think that SOMEONE besides me would be paying attention enough to have an opinion. Bummer.

    Thanks for finding my other comment. I’ve had posts deleted on other sites, and most likely deserved it. But I tend to be much more restrained here, as it’s been pointed out to me that there are a lot of terrified people in this state when it comes to words. I try to be considerate of that sensitivity, and so to have a comment disappear on me was really annoying and disappointing. It’s usually the right wing sites that can’t take any conflict. This site generally doesn’t have that problem.

    BTW, I like a lot of your writing. Keep it up.

  5. Pingback: Colorado Civil Liberties on the Brink: Why Your Vote Matters | InTheKnow

  6. Pingback: Colorado Civil Liberties on the Brink: Why Your Vote Matters | Oh Alright!

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