Legislation to protect tens of thousands of domestic workers from employment discrimination passed a major hurdle on Thursday, receiving approval from the Colorado House.
If adopted, House Bill 1367 would expand Colorado’s anti-discrimination law to cover employees who work for private households, such as cleaners, gardeners, nannies or the elderly. The bill would also extend the time to file a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission from 180 to 300 days and increase the damages recoverable in age discrimination cases.
Mentioned Rep. Susan Lontine, a Denver Democrat who sponsors the bill: “What we bring to you today will provide much-needed relief and relief from employment discrimination to those who have been denied justice. …Currently, domestic workers do not have the protections of CADA and HB-1367 removes this exclusion and rightly includes domestic workers.
Colorado’s anti-discrimination law prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee because of disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, and nationality. If the bill were enacted, the state estimates it would result in about 200 additional discrimination complaints being filed each year.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 40 to 23 on Thursday, sending it to the Senate for consideration. All Democratic representatives voted in favor of the bill, while all Republicans voted against.
Opponents have described the hiring of domestic workers as a private decision in which the state should not interfere, arguing that employers should be allowed to consider factors such as gender, religion and nationality when making decisions. hiring workers.
“What if you have a woman in the household who is a victim of domestic violence and she only wants to hire women to do the cleaning? They don’t want a man in their home because of their life experience,” said Rep. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs. “What if you have an immigrant from Ukraine and someone from Russia applies?”
The drafters of the bill said sex in some cases is a bona fide occupational qualification already protected by state law and existing case law. They also passed an amendment to the bill clarifying that it would not be discriminatory to consider gender when hiring an employee for childcare-related work.
While Carver said those protections for employers don’t go far enough, supporters of the bill said it’s the workers who need the protection.
“Frankly, there’s a pretty ugly history of discrimination and lack of redress for discrimination against people working in this domestic setting,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora.
The Colorado Women’s Bar Association said the landmark decision not to include domestic workers in job protections was intended to exclude industries in which newly emancipated slaves worked at the start of the Jim Crow era.
In 2020, 2.2 million people worked as domestic workers in the United States – of which 91.5% were women and 52.4% were people of color, according to a report by the Institute for Economic Policy. Domestic workers are also disproportionately older, foreign-born and live in poverty.