By Doug Chartier, LAW WEEK COLORADO
When the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act Of 2013 went into effect at the start of this year, it brought Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws more in line with those at the federal level. Specifically, it expanded the remedies employee claimants can seek under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and broadened the CADA’s definition of the term “disability.” As a result, employment attorneys are expecting a dramatic increase in discrimination claims against employers.
Whereas previously a prevailing CADA plaintiff could only be awarded equitable relief, claimants can now sue for compensatory damages, punitive damages and legal fees in addition.
The 2013 amendments are the most significant changes to the CADA in the last 15 years, said Timothy Kratz, shareholder at Jackson Lewis’s Denver office. He counsels employers and represents them in claims involving discrimination and disparate impact class allegations, among other matters.
“Previously the remedies available to the plaintiff were pretty miniscule, frankly,” Kratz said of the pre-amendment CADA, adding that by echoing federal law (namely Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1991), the CADA gives individuals a more plaintiff-friendly path for pursuing discrimination claims against an employer, which should dramatically increase the number of state claims overall.