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Colorado Companies Encouraged To Comply With Nondiscrimination Law Before One-Year Anniversary of ENDA.

New Resource Sheds Light on Gender Expression, Discrimination, and the Law

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- One year ago this month, Colorado passed into law an amended version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). The new ENDA extends workplace discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. As the one-year anniversary approaches, the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado is encouraging corporations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and other business entities to ensure that they are in compliance with the law. The fund also assists employers with their compliance efforts by providing informational resources to help accelerate and simplify that process.

Signed into law by Governor Bill Ritter on May 25, 2007 and effective August 3, 2007, ENDA expands Colorado's employment nondiscrimination protections to include sexual orientation - an important step toward ending discrimination in the workplace for all Coloradans. ENDA makes it unlawful to consider sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression when making employment-related decisions, or to make any inquiry about an applicant's sexual orientation or gender expression. The law is applicable to all employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, on-the-job training, and vocational training programs and schools in Colorado.

"Until this legislation was passed, it was lawful in Colorado to fire someone simply because of their being gay," said Mary Lou Makepeace, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Fund. "I am so proud of our governor and the Colorado legislature who passed the ENDA legislation."

"Complying with the law is simple, and is an important step every organization can take toward advancing equality and ending discrimination in our state. I urge organizations to achieve compliance before the one-year anniversary," Makepeace added.

While compliance with the law is a good first step toward ending discrimination, there are additional measures organizations can take to protect themselves and their employees. "All organizations, whether they are nonprofit or private, need to recognize discrimination as a potential liability. They need to have policies and procedures in place, as well as staff training, to avoid any allegations of discrimination," says Pat Steadman, vice president of Mendez, Steadman & Associates, a political consulting firm. Steadman was the primary lobbyist who worked for 11 years to get ENDA passed into Colorado legislation.

To simplify the process of complying with ENDA, the Fund is making information available about ENDA, gender expression, and tips for achieving a discrimination-free workplace at www.gayandlesbianfund.org/enda and www.gayandlesbianfund.org/advancingequality. More about ENDA can be found at www.dora.state.co.us/civil-rights/index.htm or www.aclu.org/enda/.

About the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado

Since it was founded in 1996, the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado has provided financial support and critical resources to hundreds of nonprofit organizations that share the fund's commitment to advancing equality and improving quality of life for people across Colorado. Having awarded more than $18 million to arts and culture, civic leadership, healthy families, and public broadcasting programs, the fund prides itself on the collaborations it has formed with those who share a common vision for equality. Along with grantees, business partners, nonprofit leaders, public supporters, and allies, the Gay & Lesbian Fund believes that Colorado is a stronger state when all residents have equal access to opportunities and resources. Learn more about the fund's philanthropic work at www.gayandlesbianfund.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:May 13, 2008
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