DORA advisory regarding Colorado protections for equal access for transgender persons to public facilities under Colorado law
DENVER (Feb. 24, 2017) — The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and the Civil Rights Division (CCRD), the state agency housed in DORA that enforces the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), issues the following advisory reminder regarding how the CADA provides legal protections to identified protected classes of people, including transgender people.
Under Colorado law, the CADA’s protections against discrimination extend to a person’s “transgender status or another individual’s perception thereof.” See C.R.S. § 24-34-301(7). A transgender person is someone whose gender identity differs from the sex marked on their birth certificate. The CADA prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation, employment, and housing (see C.R.S. 24-34-301 et seq.), including schools.
“In Colorado, access to restrooms and other gender-segregated facilities in places of public accommodation and places of employment is a right protected by Colorado law,” said DORA Executive Director Joe Neguse.
“In Colorado, a person cannot be denied access to the restroom that conforms to their gender identity, and we encourage any victims of such discrimination to contact our office,” added Colorado Civil Rights Division Director Aubrey Elenis.
Where to Turn for More Information
CCRD provides outreach and education about the CADA, anti-discrimination laws and related issues at no charge to participants.
For more information about the Colorado Civil Rights Division, visit askDORA.colorado.gov.
If you belong to a protected class and have experienced discrimination in a place of housing, employment or public accommodations, call us at 303-894-2997, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or file a complaint online via CaseConnect.
LEGAL BACKGROUND & DEFINITIONS
Places of Public Accommodation
C.R.S. § 24-34-601 etseq.
A “place of public accommodation” means any place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering service, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to the public. Examples include retail stores, restaurants, hair salons, hospitals, schools, libraries, museums and movie theaters.
A place of public accommodation cannot “refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual ... the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations,” based on protected class, including transgender status.
Places of Employment
§ C.R.S. 24-34-401 et seq.
Under CADA, employers cannot discriminate on the basis of transgender status. That means, just like in public accommodations, employees must be granted access to the facilities that match their gender identity.
Colorado Civil Rights Commission Rules and Regulations
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission (“CCRC”) has set forth Rules and Regulations in the Colorado Code of Regulations (“CCR”) regarding the CADA. These can be found at 3 CCR 708-1. The purpose of these rules is to “serve as a set of standards, to provide guidance, and indicate factors which will be taken into consideration when determining whether or not there has been a violation of [CADA].” See 3 CCR 708-1 Rule 10.1.
CCRC Rule 10.2 (GG) defines transgender as follows: “Transgender means having a gender identity or gender expression that differs from societal expectations based on gender assigned at birth.” Rule 10.2 (Q) defines gender identity as “an innate sense of one’s own gender.” Rule 10.2 (R) defines gender expression as “external appearance, characteristics or behaviors typically associated with a specific gender.”
In Colorado, a transgender person has the right to access the gender-segregated facility that matches their gender identity. CCRC Rule 81.9 (B)(C) provides: All covered entities shall allow individuals the use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. Gender-segregated facilities include but are not limited to, restrooms, lockers rooms, dressing rooms, and dormitories.
There is nothing in the CADA that prohibits the segregation of these facilities on the basis of sex. Not all facilities are gender segregated. There are often “unisex,” “family restrooms,” and “gender neutral” restrooms that are available for use by any sex; often these sorts of restrooms are restricted to the use of one person and/or one family at a time.
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