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Filing a Discrimination Claim – Colorado

1. What kinds of discrimination are against state law in Colorado?

The Colorado Fair Employment Practices Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, age, gender, disability, national origin, and ancestry.

2. How do I file a discrimination claim in Colorado?

A discrimination claim can be filed either with the state administrative agency, the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD), or with the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have what is called a work-sharing agreement, which means that the agencies cooperate with each other to process claims. Filing a claim with both agencies is unnecessary, as long as you indicate to one of the agencies that you want it to cross-file the claim with the other agency.

The Colorado anti-discrimination statute covers employers of any size. Therefore, if your workplace has between 1 and 14 employees, you should file with the CCRD, as the EEOC enforces federal law which covers only employers with 15 or more employees (or 20 in the case of age discrimination). Some Colorado attorneys recommend that you file with the CCRD first for all types of discrimination claims, due to the convenience of having several CCRD offices in the state and the CCRD’s ability to proceed more quickly with investigations.

To file a claim with the CCRD, contact its office below. More information about filing a claim with the CCRD can be found at: http://www.dora.state.co.us/civil-rights/index.htm.

Division of Civil Rights
1560 Broadway, Suite 1050
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 894-2997
Toll-Free (English/Spanish): (800) 262-4845
Fax: (303) 894-7830
TDD: (303) 894-7880

After speaking with the Denver office, you will be referred to the office closest to you for further processing of your claim. The CCRD has offices in Denver, Greeley, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or Grand Junction.

To file a claim with the EEOC, contact your local EEOC office below. More information about filing a claim with the EEOC can be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/howtofil.html.

EEOC Denver District Office
303 E. 17th Avenue
Suite 510
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-866-1300
TTY: 303-866-1950

You may also wish to check with your city or county to see if you live and/or work in a city or county with a local anti-discrimination law, or ordinance. Some cities and counties in Colorado (including Aspen, Denver and Boulder) have agencies that process claims under local ordinances and may be able to assist you. Unlike federal or state law, these ordinances also cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. These agencies are often called the Human Rights Commission, Human Relations Commission, or the Civil Rights Commission. Check your local telephone directory or government website for further information.

3. What are my time deadlines?

Do not delay in contacting the CCRD or EEOC to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed. To preserve your claim under state law, you must file with the CCRD (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. To preserve your claim under federal law, you must file with the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your discrimination claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.

4. How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Colorado?

If your case is successfully resolved by an administrative agency, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit (to resolve your case, you probably will be required as to sign a release of your legal claims). If your case is not resolved by the CCRD or EEOC and you want to continue to pursue the matter, you will need to pursue your claim in court. A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court without first going to the EEOC, as discussed above, and having the EEOC dismiss your claim. This process is called exhaustion of your administrative remedy. Similarly, before you can proceed with a lawsuit based on your state discrimination claim, you must file with the CCRD.

Because Colorado’s state antidiscrimination statute limits damages and attorneys fees and does not allow for a trial by jury, many Colorado attorneys choose to file employment discrimination cases in federal court using federal law. A case filed in state court using federal law may be removed to federal court by the employer because it involves a federal statute, such as Title VII or the ADEA.

The EEOC must first issue the document known as Dismissal and Notice of Rights or Notice of Right to Sue (Form 161) before you can file a case based upon your federal claim. A lawsuit based on your federal discrimination claim must be filed in federal or state court within 90 days of the date you receive the notice. (Be sure to mark down that date when you receive the notice.) A lawsuit based on your state claim must be filed within 90 days of receiving a similar letter from the CCRD.

These deadlines are called the statute of limitations. If you have received one of these agency dismissal letters, do not delay consulting with an attorney. If your lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, then you may lose your ability to pursue a discrimination case.