Colorado Legislative Council Staff
NO FISCAL IMPACT
January 11, 1999
House Business Affairs
Will Meyer (303-866-4976)
TITLE: CONCERNING AUGMENTATION OF COLORADO EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAWS.
Summary of Assessment
The bill makes remedies under Colorado employment discrimination laws equivalent to those available under federal law. It does so by providing that, in cases of unlawful intentional employment discrimination, a complainant may recover reasonable attorney fees, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The bill also permits complaining parties to have jury trials in discrimination cases filed in state courts. The bill also makes it unlawful to harass any person during the course of employment and allows the Colorado Civil Rights Division to investigate cases that it currently refers to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. The bill would become effective July 1, 1999.
The bill allows the Colorado Civil Rights Division to order punitive damages (the same as those available under federal laws) against non-governmental agencies; if the complainant demonstrated that the respondent engaged in a discriminatory practice or practices with malice or reckless indifference to the statutorily protected rights of an aggrieved individual. It is assumed that this would result in fewer cases seeking "a right to sue" permission letter from the division and then going to court, and more cases proceeding to a division administrative hearing. Any additional cases that were filed in state court would have a minimal affect on the workload of the Judicial Branch.
The provision of the bill that makes it unlawful to harass any person during the course of employment and allows the division to investigate such cases, will reduce the number of cases that it currently refers to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. The division has indicated that it expects an increase in the number of new cases filed with the division, but any increase in the number of new cases would be offset by deferrals from the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission assumes that the total number of cases that would be filed with the commission would not change. However, the commission's hearings workload would increase. Any increases in the commission's hearings workload, including investigation costs, would be absorbed within their existing spending authority. It is anticipated that any increase in the workload of the Judicial Branch would be minimal and could be absorbed. The provisions of this bill will not impact any other state agency, or unit of local government. Therefore, this bill is assessed as having no fiscal impact.
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