Protected Classes Update

Articles

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. Anyone involved in housing related transactions (including real estate brokers and HOA board members/community managers) should be aware that they are subject to the housing provisions of CADA and that they need to take care not to discriminate. CADA prohibits discrimination based on “protected class,” which include race sex, sexual orientation, and religion. During the 2020 regular legislative session, the Colorado General Assembly passed, and the Governor subsequently signed, two bills which amended CADA to prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles typically associate with race, and discrimination based on source of income. Below are summaries of each bill.

 

The CROWN Act of 2020
On March 6, 2020, Governor Polis signed into law the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2020”, also known as the “CROWN Act of 2020.” The CROWN Act amended the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”), among other statutes, to address discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles commonly or historically associated with race.

Specifically, the CROWN Act amended CADA at C.R.S. 24-34-301 (the “definitions” section of CADA) to define the term “Race” as: “includ[ing] hair texture, hair type, and or a protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race.” The Act also defines “protective hairstyles” as:”includ[ing] such hairstyles as braids, locs, twists, tight coils or curls, cornrows, Bantu knots, Afros, and headwraps.

How does this Act apply to real estate brokers?

The Act prohibits discrimination with regard to both employment and housing matters.

Real estate brokers need to be cautious in the hiring and termination practices of their real estate brokerage so as not to discriminate against an individual in this protected class. A review and updating of the brokerage’s office policy manual and consultation with employment legal counsel would be both timely and appropriate.

The Act also applies to housing related transactions, therefore, real estate brokers need to make sure they are not discriminating against an individual protected by this Act in the purchase, sale or leasing of real estate, with advertising, in their property management practice transactions, or while acting as an HOA board member or community manager.

You can read the full Act here, and see the full bill history and other relevant information here. The CROWN Act went into effect September 13, 2020.

 
 
Source of Income
On July 14, 2020, Governor Polis signed into law “An Act concerning the prohibitions on discrimination in housing based on source of income.” This act amended and added to CADA in order to recognize “source of income” as a protected class in housing. This means that covered housing providers cannot discriminate against a potential tenant based on his or her “source of income” which is defined as “income derived from any lawful profession or occupation; and income or rental payments derived from any government or private assistance, grant, or loan program.” The act amended CADA at C.R.S. 24-34-501 (4) and (4.5).

The source of income (SOI) provision of CADA does not apply to housing providers “with three or fewer units of housing for rent or lease” nor does it require a housing provider with “five or fewer single family rental homes and no more than five total rental units” to “accept federal housing choice vouchers for any of those five single family homes as an acceptable source of income.” Simply put, this means that only housing providers with three or more rental units are subject to the prohibitions on discrimination based on SOI, and that a housing provider is not required to accept a “section 8” voucher unless that housing provider owns more than five rental units.

 
How does this Act apply to real estate brokers?

Real estate brokers that have a property management practice or are acting as a landlord need to first determine if they are exempted under this Act. If the Act applies, one needs to recognize this new source of income prohibition and be compliant with its provisions so as not to discriminate against a potential tenant. If you are not sure if the Act applies to your particular situation, consider consulting with an attorney.

You can read the full Act here, and see the full bill history and other relevant information here. The prohibitions on discrimination based on Source of Income become effective January 1, 2021.

 
 
CADA Enforcement
 
The CADA is enforced by the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD). CCRD enforces CADA primarily by receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination. To learn more about the CCRD, the CADA and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, visit their website at ccrd.colorado.gov.