Mon February 7, 2011

Bill Seeks to Extend Civil Rights Protections to Small Businesses

Colorado has a number of laws on the books protecting employees from workplace discrimination, but the laws often lack enforcement provisions.  

Senate Bill 72, which is awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, would close a gap limiting legal recourse for some Coloradans if they face discrimination on the job.  Although Colorado was one of the first states in the nation to pass its own anti-discrimination law in 1959, workers at businesses with fewer than 15 employees aren’t necessarily covered under those protections. 

“I find it absolutely stunning that nearly 50 years later that there's any debate and any question about covering these basic civil rights,” says Senator Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora), who is sponsoring the bill.

The Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act would extend federal enforcement standards to companies of any size. It would also provide recourse for other protected classes in Colorado, such as sexual orientation or victims of domestic violence.  Carroll says in past years, the business lobby has opposed similar legislation, saying it’s too costly for small companies.  Forty-one other states have passed similar laws.