Colorado has passed a new law that expands the types of discrimination lawsuit damages that employees of small business employers - those with 14 or fewer employees - may be entitled to. +2013 Bill Text CO H.B. 1136. These damages include compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees. Previously, such employees were only able to obtain back pay, front pay, and reinstatement. The new law applies to claims alleging discriminatory or unfair employment practices that begin on or after January 1, 2015.
This law contains some limited protections for employers. For example, compensatory and punitive damages awards are capped at $10,000 for employers with four or fewer employees and $25,000 for employers with between five and 14 workers. Further, in order to recover these damages, employees must prove that the discrimination was intentional and compensatory and punitive damages are not available in disparate impact cases. Additionally, Colorado courts must take into account the size and assets of the employer as well as the egregiousness of the unlawful employment practice when determining the appropriate amount of compensatory and punitive damages to award.
Small businesses employers in Colorado should be mindful of this new law as it is an even greater incentive for such smaller employers to maintain a workplace that is free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
Employee Management > EEO - Discrimination: Colorado
Payroll > Taxation of Employee Compensation > Back Pay Awards and Damages