Domestic workers

Domestic workers added to Colorado employment discrimination protections | Legislature

Thousands of Colorado domestic workers will soon be added to state protections against employment discrimination thanks to a new law signed Wednesday.

From August, House Bill 1367 expands Colorado’s anti-discrimination law to cover employees who work for private households, such as cleaners, gardeners, nannies, or seniors. The bill also extends the time for filing a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission from 180 to 300 days and increases the damages that can be recovered in age discrimination cases.

This makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee because of their disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age and nationality. The state estimates the bill will result in about 200 additional discrimination complaints being filed each year.

“Having basic protections for domestic workers is extremely important,” said Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, who is sponsoring the bill. “Workers are often in a power dynamic where they are more easily harassed, more easily discriminated against and abused. This power dynamic is even more important when you walk into someone’s home.

Lawmakers passed the bill entirely along party lines, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans in opposition. Republicans 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 hiring. hiring workers.

The bill’s drafters said gender, age and religion in some cases are bona fide occupational qualifications already protected by state law and existing case law. They also amended the bill to clarify that it would not be discriminatory to consider gender when hiring an employee for childcare-related work.

While the bill could open some home-based employers to potential lawsuits, Winter said it’s the workers who need protection. Historically, the decision not to include domestic workers in job protections was meant to exclude industries in which recently emancipated slaves worked during the early Jim Crow era, according to the Colorado Women’s Bar Association.

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.


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