BILL SUMMARY for HB13-1136
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Adopt amendment L.002 (Attachment E). The motion p|
Adopt amendment L.003 (Attachment F). The motion p
Adopt amendment L.004 (Attachment G). The motion p
Adopt amendment L.005 (Attachment H). The motion f
Refer House Bill 13-1136, as amended, to the Commi
|Pass Without Objection|
Pass Without Objection
Pass Without Objection
05:54 PM -- House Bill 13-1136
The committee took a brief recess.
The committee returned to order.
Representatives Levy and Salazar, co-sponsors, presented House Bill 13-1136 concerning the creation of remedies in employment discrimination cases brought under state law. The bill establishes the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013. It allows for the remedies of compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees to be awarded in employment discrimination cases brought under state law against employers where intentional discrimination is proven. These damages may be levied by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (commission), a state court, or, for state employees, by the State Personnel Board (board). These remedies are in addition to those allowed under current law, including front pay, back pay, interest on back pay, reinstatement or hiring, and other equitable relief. Remedies that are currently allowed at the federal level for employers with 15 or more employees are extended by the bill to employers with fewer than 15 employees and to employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Any party in a proceeding before the commission or in a civil action where the plaintiff is seeking compensatory or punitive damages may demand a trial by jury. The bill also allows for claims of age discrimination by persons 70 years of age and older.
Compensatory and punitive damages are limited based on the size of the employer, and the commission or court are directed to consider the size and assets of the defendant and the egregiousness of the intentional discriminatory or unfair employment practice when assigning damages.
By September 1, 2013, the commission is required to appoint a working group of employers and employees, including human resources professionals, to assist in education and outreach efforts and to foster compliance with laws prohibiting discriminatory or unfair employment practices. The commission is allowed to accept and expend gifts, grants and donations to fund this effort. Agencies that interact with private business are directed to post information on their websites within existing resources to encourage compliance with the provisions of the bill.
Colorado Civil Rights Division. Under state law, a person who believes he or she has been discriminated against must exhaust administrative relief before filing with a court. To accomplish this, the person must file a charge of discrimination (claim) with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) in the Department of Regulatory Agencies. The CCRD investigates the claim and the director makes a determination. If a claim is not settled at the division, the person may sue in an appropriate court within 90 days of the determination.
Federal Civil Rights Law. Under federal law, plaintiffs who prevail in employment discrimination cases may be awarded compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney fees. This only applies to cases against employers with 15 or more employees. An exception is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which applies to employers with 20 or more employees and allows for the award of attorney fees but not compensatory or punitive damages. Claims of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation cannot be brought under federal law.
Representatives Levy and Salazar responded to questions from the committee.
06:30 PM -- Barry Roseman, representing the Plaintiffs' Employment Lawyers' Association, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Roseman spoke about the differences between federal civil rights law and Colorado civil rights law. He discussed other states with laws similar to what is proposed by the bill. He explained the role of the CCRD in discrimination cases. He stated that the bill would bring Colorado into line with a majority of other states and federal law.
06:38 PM -- Erin Bennett, representing 9 to 5: National Association of Working Women, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Bennett spoke about women with whom she has worked who have faced employment discrimination on the basis of their gender. She listed a number of organizations that join 9 to 5 in supporting the legislation.
06:43 PM -- Regina Edmonson, representing Colorado Business Women, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Edmonson expressed particular support for the training and public education component of the bill. She related details of her experience with employment discrimination on the basis of her race and gender.
06:45 PM -- Rachel Martinez, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Martinez related details of her experience with sexual harassment in the workplace at the age of 17.
06:51 PM -- Kathleen Hallgren, representing The Bell Policy Center, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Hallgren spoke about the legal remedies currently available for employment discrimination cases. She discussed discrimination cases in other states.
06:55 PM -- Mark Turner, representing the Colorado Nonprofit Association, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Turner stressed the importance of discrimination-free workplaces.
06:57 PM -- Pat Madsen, representing the Colorado Women's Bar Association (CWBA), testified in support of the bill. Ms. Madsen spoke about the mission of the CWBA. She stated that the CWBA supports women in the workplace, whether they are employers or employees. She stated that very few employment discrimination cases are accepted by attorneys because they are so difficult to prove. She expressed her opinion that there is little likelihood of large numbers of frivolous cases being filed as a result of the bill. Ms. Madsen responded to questions from the committee.
07:09 PM -- Amy Miller, representing the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Miller spoke about the importance of financial of independence for domestic violence victims and discussed situations where domestic violence victims have lost their jobs due to circumstances related to domestic abuse.
07:13 PM -- Daniel Ramos, representing One Colorado, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Ramos spoke about the problem of discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
07:16 PM -- Mindy Barton and Courtney Gray, representing the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of Colorado, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Barton spoke about the problem of discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Ms. Gray commented about the harassment of transgender individuals in the workplace.
07:23 PM -- Qusair Mohamedbhai, representing the Colorado Trial Lawyers' Association, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Mohamedbhai discussed the difficulties of litigating employment discrimination cases and spoke about individuals who are not able to file such a case and see it through.
07:27 PM -- Marijo Rymer, representing The Arc of Colorado, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Rymer spoke about the problem of workplace discrimination against individuals with developmental disabilities.
07:31 PM -- Merrily Archer, representing EEO Legal Solutions, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Archer stated that employment discrimination is a murky business. She indicated that it is often unclear whether discrimination has taken place. She discussed her experience as an attorney in this area. She expressed concern that the training component of the bill is not useful; the bill promotes "forum shopping;" and a state remedy makes the federal remedy increasingly irrelevant. Ms. Archer responded to questions from the committee.
07:48 PM -- Casey Quillen, representing the Colorado Defense Lawyers' Association, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Quillen expressed concerns about the state courts' ability to handle these types of cases and about the powers of the CCRD, which appear to exceed those of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She brought up a number of technical problems she saw in the bill. She expressed support for a more tiered approach to determining remedies in a discrimination case. Ms. Quillen responded to questions from the committee.
07:57 PM -- Robert Ferm, representing the Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Colorado, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Ferm discussed the costs to businesses that the bill may create, including cost for certain types of liability insurance plans employers may need to buy. Mr. Ferm responded to questions from the committee.
08:07 PM -- Larry Marquess, representing the Colorado Association of Commerce and Indutry, testified against the bill. Mr. Marquess discussed the impact the bill could have on the judicial system and the limitations that are in place in other states concerning remedies in employment discrimination cases. He continued discussing the impact the bill could have on small employers. He spoke about ways to reduce the burden on small businesses. He responded to questions from the committee.
08:25 PM -- Tony Gagliardi, representing the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Gagliardi spoke about the mission of NFIB. He indicated that the bill will lead to "forum shopping" and will be a financial burden to small independent businesses and farming operations.
08:32 PM -- Nick Hoover, representing the Colorado Restaurant Association, testified in opposition to the bill.
08:34 PM -- Joe Adams, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Adams spoke about his experience as a small business owner who has been through a discrimination case with a former employee. He discussed the costs he incurred as a result of the case. He stated that his employees are like his family and this bill serves to drive a wedge between them. He responded to questions from the committee.
08:44 PM -- Patti Kurgan, representing herself, testified in opposition to the bill.
Prepared amendments L.002, L.003, L.004, and L.005 (Attachments E through H) were distributed and discussed.
|TIME: || 09:27:27 PM|
|MOTION:||Refer House Bill 13-1136, as amended, to the Committee on Appropriations. The motion passed on a vote of 6-3, with 2 excused.|
Final YES: 6 NO: 3 EXC: 2 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
The committee adjourned.