WASHINGTON - In responding to claims by Gov. Bill Owens that a workplace discrimination measure would add to lawsuits, the Human Rights Campaign pointed to existing state law that prohibits the filing of a discrimination lawsuit without first going through a rigorous process with a state commission.
"Governor Owens can rest easy knowing that there will be no onslaught of lawsuits," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "State law already limits lawsuits by first ensuring that the matter is thoroughly evaluated by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Only one governor in history has ever vetoed a law like this. We urge Governor Owens to sign S.B. 05-28 into law so that nobody in Colorado is fired just because of who they are."
S.B. 05-28 would prohibit discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals by adding language to existing state non-discrimination law. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and six prohibit gender identity-based discrimination, including Colorado neighbor New Mexico.
Only one governor - then California Gov. Pete Wilson - has ever vetoed a measure prohibiting sexual orientation-based discrimination. Wilson then signed a measure adding sexual orientation anti-discrimination protections to the state's Labor Code law the next year. Six Republican governors have signed laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those governors are: Wisconsin Gov. Dreyfus (1982), California Gov. Wilson (1992), Minnesota Gov. Carlson (1993), Rhode Island Gov. Almond (1995), Nevada Gov. Guinn (1999) and New York Gov. Pataki (2002).
According to The Rocky Mountain News, Owens, in discussing S.B. 05-28, said, "If you look at my record in terms of tort ﾃ I'm typically trying to narrow the framework for lawsuits because I think lawsuits cost us all."
The process for filing an employment discrimination claim in Colorado includes filing a claim with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission within six months of the alleged employment discrimination. The claim will be considered for Alternative Dispute Resolution, which is identified as Mediation at this point in the process. Depending on the outcome of the Mediation, the charge can proceed to the Investigation stage. Once the investigation is complete, the director will make a determination on the case and render a Letter of Determination with the outcome of the charge.
Colorado law also states: "No person may file a civil action in a district court in this state based on an alleged discriminatory or unfair practice prohibited by parts 4 to 7 of this article without first exhausting the proceedings and remedies available to him under this part 3 unless he shows, in an action filed in the appropriate district court, by clear and convincing evidence, his ill health which is of such a nature that pursuing administrative remedies would not provide timely and reasonable relief and would cause irreparable harm." (See COLO. REV STAT. §24-34-306(14).)
To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.