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New legislation proposes changes for discrimination lawsuits

Lawmakers at both the state and federal levels have been working for decades to improve the relationship between employers and their employees. Employment discrimination in particular has been the target of many different legislative efforts, from the Family Medical Leave Act to the Americans with Disabilities Act and up to and including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. One of the goals that is usually cited in pursuing these efforts is helping to maintain a balance of power in the workplace, where the employee enjoys their rights and the employer respects those rights. Now, legislators in Colorado have approved an effort to expand on the rights of workers in the state.

A recent article covered many of the details in the legislation, which appears to be primarily aimed at including small businesses under more expansive worker-protection provisions. The legislation is specifically designed to increase the amount of potential awards given to employees who successfully pursue discrimination lawsuits against their employers.

As with many issues in America and in Colorado, this legislation was hotly contested. The bills recently passed the State Senate on a 19-16 vote. Opponents of the legislation apparently had concerns that the new provisions would be an unnecessary burden on small businesses in Colorado. Proponents argued that similar provisions are in place in many other states.

One of the purposes of the legislative process is to encourage discussions among those with different opinions and, hopefully, find common ground that will make society better, fairer and more prosperous. There is no question that employment discrimination remains a serious problem throughout America. Any efforts to curb this type of behavior will probably be applauded by employees - but perhaps not by employers.

Source: Denver Business Journal, "Legislature sends small-business discrimination bill to governor," Ed Sealover, April 26, 2013

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