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Fact Sheet In Support of SB 118
Join us in re-making history with Colorado Americans with Disabilities Act
What does SB 118 do? SB 118 makes disability rights laws easier for everyone to understand and follow:
It is a clean-up bill:
1.It puts all Colorado disability rights laws in one place – right now the laws are different places and confusing.
2.It will make Colorado law the same as ADA with a couple small exceptions:
It Enables people who have service dogs in training to have the same access as everyone else:
Colorado has allowed service dogs in training access since the mid 1990's. The ADA does not allow access to dogs in training. This legislation will keep the provision allowing dogs in training to go to places of public accommodation (of course the handlers are always responsible for the dog).
It curbs so-called “drive-by” lawsuits:
The ADA does not specifically assure damages; however the Fair Housing Act does. Colorado law allows for $50-$500 per Housing discrimination incident. The ADA does not provide for damages, but Fair Housing Act does. The current Colorado law allows for $50-$500 per incident. This means that in some cases the damages are too low to incentivize anyone to follow the law OR they can be too high with multiple allegations because damages are allowed. The range in current law gives one more reason to litigate and one more thing to litigate about it . This legislation corrects this problem through a flat fine of $3500 for proven discrimination.
It eliminates ambiguity in criminal charges related to discrimination:
Currently the Colorado law makes discrimination of any type a crime. This legislation clarifies enforcement by making it a crime only if it is willful and knowing--a very high standard. This prevents confusion in enforcement and the potential for frivolous and/or character damaging allegations.
WHAT DOES NOT CHANGE:
Nothing changes with housing: This legislation simply moves the disability provisions into this part of the law so the disability rights are all in one place.
Nothing changes with employment: Discrimination is still illegal, and there is NO affirmative action requirement.
WHAT WILL CHANGE:
People with disabilities will not have to literally "make a federal case" if there is discrimination, they can go to state court. This change addresses accessed to justice regarding discrimination especially for rural citizens who may not have access to federal courts or to lawyers comfortable in practicing with federal courts.
It is a secondary option to GIGANTIC FEDERAL COURT JUDGEMENTS!
Businesses and landlords and others will only have to know ONE standard – state law will align with federal law. If there are changes at the federal level our state law will change with those changes. They will no longer risk being sued when they are simply confused about which standard to follow. ONE LAW TO FOLLOW= LESS CONFUSION!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: If you have the ADA why do we need any state law?
A: Colorado has had a state anti-discrimination law for many years. Protection from discrimination must be the job of the state and federal government. Some rural citizens cannot easily access federal court.
Q: What is to stop unethical lawyers from colluding with disabled people and just making up lawsuits over tiny issues to get a chunk of money?
A: Lawyers can lose and have lost their licenses for filing frivolous lawsuits. In the few places this has happened in other states, the lawyers and the disabled people have been caught and stopped by the courts.
If it was going to happen in Colorado, it would have happened by now where people can claim $500.00 in damages for every single instance of discrimination. That has not happened in Colorado. The main organizations doing ADA litigation include: The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. All parties at a meeting to hear concerns were clear that there was no allegation that these groups have been inappropriate.
The bottom line is that there are no lawyers lining up to represent people with disabilities. The ADA has strict checks and balances. Finally, the best way to avoid paying anyone anything…is to comply with the law and to not ignore a qualified person with a disability, when approached about a possible problem or need for a reasonable accommodation.
Q: Won't this lead to forum shopping – having people file lawsuits where they think they will get the best deal?
A: No more than what happens everywhere else in the law. A lawyer comfortable with federal court will not suddenly go into a whole new arena and vice-versa. The different courts have different rules and procedures.