In today’s society, the issue of employment discrimination based on criminal records is a pressing concern. Individuals with criminal records often face hurdles when seeking employment, despite having paid their debt to society.
Fortunately, the state of Colorado recognizes the importance of giving ex-offenders a second chance and has established laws to protect their rights. In this blog post, we will explore the rights and protections available to individuals with criminal records in Colorado when it comes to employment discrimination.
Understanding Employment Discrimination
Employment discrimination based on criminal history occurs when an employer makes employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, or promoting, based on an individual’s criminal record rather than their qualifications for the job. This type of discrimination can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to find and maintain employment, making it harder for them to reintegrate into society after serving their sentence.
Colorado’s “Ban the Box” Law
Colorado has taken significant steps to address employment discrimination against individuals with criminal records. In 2012, the state implemented what is commonly known as the “Ban the Box” law. This law prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on the initial job application. The intent is to allow individuals to be evaluated based on their qualifications and skills before their criminal history is considered.
This legislation is vital as it offers individuals with criminal records a fair opportunity to compete for job openings without being immediately disqualified due to their past mistakes. However, it’s important to note that employers can still inquire about an applicant’s criminal history later in the hiring process.
The Colorado Chance to Compete Act
The Colorado Chance to Compete Act, also known as the “Ban the Box” law, applies to both public and private employers in the state. Employers are prohibited from:
- Advertising job openings that exclude applicants with criminal histories.
- Using criminal history as an automatic disqualifier for employment.
- Making inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history on the initial job application.
Furthermore, employers are required to provide a written notice to applicants who are disqualified from employment due to their criminal history. This notice must include the specific criminal history information that led to the disqualification, along with a copy of the criminal history report, allowing the applicant to dispute any inaccuracies.
Legal Remedies for Employment Discrimination
If an individual believes they have experienced employment discrimination based on their criminal record in Colorado, they have several legal remedies at their disposal:
- File a Complaint: The first step is to file a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies investigate claims of employment discrimination and can take action against employers who violate anti-discrimination laws.
- Seek Legal Counsel: It’s advisable to consult an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination cases. An attorney can provide guidance, represent the individual’s interests, and help navigate the legal process effectively.
- File a Lawsuit: If the CCRD or EEOC investigation does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, individuals can file a lawsuit against the employer for employment discrimination. Successful lawsuits can result in remedies such as back pay, front pay, and injunctive relief.
Colorado Fights For Individual’s Rights
Colorado’s commitment to protecting the rights of individuals with criminal records is commendable. The “Ban the Box” law and the Colorado Chance to Compete Act play a crucial role in reducing employment discrimination and providing second chances to those who deserve them. It’s essential for individuals to be aware of their rights and the available legal remedies in case they face discrimination based on their criminal history.
By understanding and asserting their rights, individuals can work towards fair employment opportunities and successful reintegration into society. Discrimination based on a criminal record should not be a barrier to one’s pursuit of a better future.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.