Colorado’s New Job Application Law Prohibits Age-Related Inquiries
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Colorado’s New Job Application Law Prohibits Age-Related Inquiries

Brownstein Client Alert, July 14, 2023

Colorado employers should take heed to update their initial job applications, including online forms, to comply with Colorado’s new “Job Application Fairness Act,” codified at C.R.S Section 8-2-131. The new requirements will go into effect on July 1, 2024, so employers have some time to ensure compliance. These new rules will apply not only to employers based in Colorado but also to multi-jurisdictional companies who advertise and hire within the state.

As of the effective date, Colorado employers will be prohibited from inquiring about a prospective employee’s age, date of birth or dates of attendance at or date of graduation from educational institutions on any initial employment applications. Employers may still ask the applicant to provide copies of certifications and transcripts, but only if they first notify the applicant they can redact information that would identify their age, date of birth or dates of study from those materials.

While the Job Application Fairness Act does not create a private right of action for aggrieved workers, employers who violate this law do face penalties enforced by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). The first violation may result in a warning and an order requiring compliance within 15 business days. The second violation may result in an order requiring compliance within 15 business days and a fine of up to $1,000. A third violation may result in an order requiring compliance within 15 business days and a fine of up to $2,500. Each distinct job application containing age-related inquiries constitutes a separate violation under this law.

There are some notable exceptions to the birthdate ban. Employers may verify an applicant’s compliance with age requirements for a job at the initial interview stage when required for a bona fide occupational qualification pertaining to public or occupational safety, and to comply with federal laws or regulations or state or local laws or regulations based on a bona fide occupational qualification. However, such requests may not require disclosure of the worker’s age, date of birth, or dates of study by the applicant or a third party.

While most employers don’t ask direct age-related questions, such as the candidate’s age or date of birth, unless otherwise needed for the reasons outlined above, job applications often do seek information that can reveal the applicant’s age. Employers who operate within Colorado should review application forms and remove questions that can indirectly reveal age, such as dates of attendance or graduation from school. In addition, employers would be well-advised to provide training to their interviewers to ensure they understand not to ask age-related questions during applicant interviews. Contact one of the authors below for help navigating this and other changes in Colorado employment law.

Brownstein Summer Associate Ruth Morris contributed to this alert.

This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding Colorado's Job Application Fairness Act. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions. The information in this article is accurate as of the publication date. Because the law in this area is changing rapidly, and insights are not automatically updated, continued accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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