Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation
Colorado law CRS 24-34-601 prohibits discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation.
A place of public accommodation means any place of business engaged in sales to the public, and any place offering services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to the public, or any public building or public facility of any kind.
It does not include a church, synagogue, mosque, or another place that is principally used for religious purposes. Religion is not a protected class under Colorado public accommodation law but is protected under employment and housing law.
Unlawful Discrimination Against Protected Classes
In Colorado, it is unlawful discrimination for a person, directly or indirectly, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry,
to refuse, withhold from or deny to any individual or a group, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation,
or, directly or indirectly, to publish, circulate, issue, display, post, or mail any written, electronic, or printed communication, notice, or advertisement that indicates that the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from, or denied an individual or that an individual’s patronage or presence at a place of public accommodation is unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable.
Examples of prohibited discriminatory practices include unequal terms and conditions, unequal treatment or services, discriminatory advertising, denial of services, retaliation, and harassment.
Definition of creed, Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Rules and Regulations: “Creed” means all aspects of religious beliefs, observances or practices, as well as sincerely held moral and ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, and/or addresses ultimate ideas or questions regarding the meaning of existence, as well as the beliefs or teachings of a particular religion, church, denomination or sect. A creed does not include political beliefs, association with political beliefs or political interests, or membership in a political party.
Retaliation for Opposing Discrimination Prohibited
It is also unlawful discrimination for any person to discriminate against any individual or group because such person or group has opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice or because such person or group has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing conducted, regarding an unlawful discriminatory practice.
Bona Fide Same Sex Restriction Allowed
It is not a discriminatory practice for a person to restrict admission to a place of public accommodation to individuals of one sex if such restriction has a bona fide relationship to the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of such place of public accommodation.
Other Protected Classes in Colorado
In employment, marriage to a co-worker is also protected. In housing, familial status is also protected. Marital status is protected under housing and public accommodations.
Protected Classes Under Federal Law
Under Title II of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin. The Federal law shall not apply to a private club or another establishment not in fact open to the public.
[photo, public domain: President Lyndon Johnson signing Civil Rights Act of 1964, with Dr. Martin Luther King attending]
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 at Title 42 U.S. Code Section 12182, a place of public accommodation must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities.
In Colorado, age is not a protected class under discrimination in places of public accommodation, but it is a protected class under employment discrimination. In 19 jurisdictions, age-based discrimination is unlawful in places of public accommodation. They are CT, DE, IL, LA, MD, MI, MT, NH, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WV and DC.
Anti-Discrimination Poster Must be Displayed
Any place of public accommodation must display a Colorado Anti-Discrimination Poster PDF [new window], provided by the Colorado Civil Rights Division, conspicuously, in an easily accessible and well-lighted location, customarily frequented by people seeking accommodation, or other services offered to the general public.
No place of public accommodation may post any sign that states or implies: We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.
Political Affiliation Discrimination
In Colorado, political affiliation is not a protected class under discrimination in places of public accommodation. In some jurisdictions, political affiliation or political ideology discrimination is unlawful in places of public accommodation. Some of these places include Washington DC, Seattle WA, Sun Prairie WI, and Broward County FL.
For employment, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 prohibits political affiliation discrimination against federal employees. Colorado public and private employers may not discriminate against an employee for engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours.
Other jurisdictions that prohibit forms of political discrimination in employment include Boulder County CO, Broward County FL, Concord NH, Washington DC, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Seattle WA, Sun Prairie WI, the Virgin Islands and Wisconsin.
Some jurisdictions prohibit political affiliation discrimination in housing including Aspen CO, Crested Butte CO, Telluride CO, Broward County, FL.
Outside of public accommodations, employment and housing, some jurisdictions prohibit harassment, threats of violence or violence based on political affiliation.
Many businesses, schools, universities, agencies and organizations follow a code of ethics that prohibits political affiliation discrimination.
Notaries Serve All of the Public
A Notary takes an oath of office to serve all of the public and must not use a different notary procedure for any protected class. A notary should provide full and equal enjoyment of notary services while following notary laws. Notary E&O insurance does not provide protection for acts of illegal discrimination.
Section 5-6 of the Model Notary Act of 2010, published by the National Notary Association (NNA), states, “A notary shall not refuse to perform a notarial act based on a person’s race, advanced age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a non-client or non-customer of the notary’s employer.”
The NNA Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility, section I-A-3 states, “The Notary shall not refuse to perform a lawful and proper notarial act because of the signer’s race, nationality, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, politics, lifestyle, age, disability, gender or sexual orientation, or because of disagreement with the statements or purpose of a lawful document.”
Section I-A-4 states, “The Notary shall not refuse to perform a lawful and proper notarial act solely because the signer is not a client or customer of the Notary or the Notary’s employer.”
States With No Public Accommodation Laws Except Disability
Five states, AL, GA, MS, NC and TX, do not have a public accommodation law for non-disabled individuals.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) publishes a useful reference chart of state public accommodation laws [new window].
Colorado Civil Rights Division
The Colorado Civil Rights Division promotes and protects civil rights through education and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation.
A charge of illegal discrimination must be filed within a specific period of time: 60 days for public accommodation cases, 6 months for employment cases and 1 year for housing cases. After a charge is filed, the parties may choose to use mediation to settle the matter, before an investigation by the Civil Rights Division. The Division Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Unit provides neutral mediators.
If the case proceeds to an investigation, when the investigation is complete, the Division will issue a Letter of Determination. If the finding is No Probable Cause of discrimination, the case is dismissed. If the finding is Probable Cause of discrimination, the Division will hold mandatory mediation (conciliation). If the case is not settled, the Commission decides whether to proceed to a public hearing.
Colorado Definitions for Public Accommodation Discrimination
“Disability” has the same meaning as set forth in the federal “Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990″, 42 U.S.C. sec. 12101 et seq., and its related amendments and implementing regulations.
“Marital status” means a relationship or a spousal status of an individual, including but not limited to being single, cohabitating, engaged, widowed, married, in a civil union, or legally separated, or a relationship or a spousal status of an individual who has had or is in the process of having a marriage or civil union dissolved or declared invalid.
“Person” means one or more individuals, limited liability companies, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, receivers, or the state of Colorado and all of its political subdivisions and agencies.
“Place of public accommodation” or “public accommodation” has the same meaning as set forth in Title III of the federal “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990″, 42 U.S.C. sec. 12181 (7), and its related amendments and implementing regulations.
“Sexual orientation” means an individual’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or another individual’s perception thereof.
Disclaimer: Laws vary by state and are subject to change. This article is not legal advice. For legal advice and questions on civil rights and discrimination, contact a licensed, experienced attorney.
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