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Public Meeting Regarding Proposed Amendments to the Human Rights Ordinance

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The meeting will be held Wednesday, July 18 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at West Senior Center, 909 Arapahoe Avenue. There will be a short presentation followed by a Q+A and feedback session.

Background

Originally adopted in 1972, the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) has been updated periodically to address newly identified factors in unfair discrimination. It was last updated in 1999, at which time gender variance was added to the factors that cannot legally be considered in decisions regarding housing, employment and public accommodation. 

Staff recommends adding two classifications of unfair discrimination to the ordinance:

  • source of income
  • compliance with federal immigration laws

For more information, please see the memo on amending the ordinance pdf.

Frequently Asked Questions

City of Boulder staff will continue to update this page as community members ask new questions of staff.

The text on this page is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing on this page is intended to constitute legal advice or the official viewpoint of the City of Boulder. The proposed amendments to the City’s Human Rights ordinance have not been tested in a court of law and are subject to a legal determination based on all facts and circumstances surrounding a claim of wrongful discrimination. Additionally, this page is intended to address the City of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance and is not intended to interpret or address federal or state anti-discrimination laws.

What is the City of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance?

The City of Boulder Human Rights Ordinance is a local law that protects against illegal discrimination within the city limits of Boulder. The Ordinance specifically affords protection against discrimination in three areas:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Public accommodations

Within these three areas, the ordinance prohibits discrimination based on ancestry, color, creed, gender variance, genetic characteristics, marital status, mental disability, physical disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation. In housing, it also prohibits discrimination based on custody of a minor child, parenthood and pregnancy. In employment, it also prohibits discrimination based on age, specifically age 40 years and older.

More information about Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance, as well as a link to the Discrimination Complaint Form, can be found at https://bouldercolorado.gov/community-relations/what-is-the-city-of-boulder-human-rights-ordinance. The full Human Rights Ordinance can be found here: https://library.municode.com/co/boulder/codes/municipal_code?nodeId=TIT12HURI_CH1PRDIHOEMPUAC.

What changes to the Human Rights Ordinance are being considered by Boulder’s City Council?

City Council is considering the addition of two new protected classes to the Human Rights Ordinance:

  • Immigration status: whether the individual is in compliance with federal immigration laws.
  • Source of income: income derived from any source that is lawful in the State of Colorado, and for purposes of chapter 12-1 of Boulder Revised Code (1981), includes public assistance.

City Council is considering adding these protected classes in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

When will Boulder’s City Council discuss and potentially vote on these proposed changes?

Boulder’s City Council is scheduled to discuss and potentially vote on these proposed changes at the September 20, 2018 City Council meeting. This meeting will begin at 6 P.M. in City Council Chambers, located on the second floor of 1777 Broadway, Boulder CO 80302.

How can I provide feedback to the city or ask questions of the city regarding these proposed changes?

Community members can provide feedback or ask questions through several channels, including:

  1. Attending the public meeting hosted by the City of Boulder Department of Human Services regarding proposed amendments to the Human Rights Ordinance. The meeting will be held Wednesday, July 18 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at West Senior Center, 909 Arapahoe Avenue. There will be a short presentation followed by a Q+A and feedback session.
  2. Emailing Clay Fong, Community Relations Manager, at [email protected].
  3. Filling out the following online form: https://bouldercolorado.formstack.com/forms/human_rights_ordinance_public_meeting_feedback
  4. Speaking during the Open Comment period at a City Council meeting. More info about speaking at City Council meetings can be found here: https://bouldercolorado.gov/city-council/participate-in-city-council-meetings
  5. Speaking during the Public Hearing period at the September 20, 2018 City Council meeting. More info about speaking at City Council meetings can be found here: https://bouldercolorado.gov/city-council/participate-in-city-council-meetings

What are some examples of income derived from any source that is lawful in the State of Colorado?

Examples include:

  • Employment income from lawful employment
  • Military pay
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Spousal support
  • Income from stocks
  • Distributions from a trust
  • Pension and annuity income
  • Social Security benefits

What other jurisdictions have outlawed discrimination based on source of income?

Jurisdictions that prohibit discrimination in housing based on source of income as of June 19, 2018 are identified at http://www.prrac.org/pdf/AppendixB.pdf.

What other jurisdictions have outlawed discrimination based on immigration status?

Examples of jurisdictions that have outlawed discrimination based on immigration status include:

Under the proposed changes, will a landlord be required to accept any rental application submitted by someone with a housing voucher?

Under the proposed changes, a landlord may reject a rental application by a voucher holder if the reason for the rejection is not related to the applicant’s source of income or membership in any other protected class. A landlord will be allowed to make a decision about a rental application based on many standard screening techniques such as checking personal references and criminal history. Also, not all rental units are eligible for rental under all voucher programs.

Under the proposed changes, will a landlord be required to accept any rental application submitted by an undocumented immigrant?

Under the proposed changes a landlord may reject a rental application by an applicant the landlord knows to be or has a good faith reason to believe is out of compliance with federal immigration laws if the rejection is not related to the applicant’s immigration status or suspected immigration status or membership in any other protected class. A landlord will be allowed to make a decision about a rental application based on standard screening techniques such as a checking personal references and criminal history.

Under the proposed changes, will a landlord be allowed to obtain credit reports about a rental applicant?

Under the proposed changes, a landlord will be allowed to obtain credit reports about a rental applicant except in instances when the applicant’s credit is unrelated to that applicant’s ability to pay rent on time and in full. An example of a situation in which obtaining credit reports about a rental applicant would be illegally discriminatory is if an applicant has a housing voucher that covers 100 percent of that applicant’s rent.

Under the proposed changes, will a landlord be required to accept cash as a form of rent payment?

No. Under the proposed changes, a landlord is not required to accept cash as a form of rent payment.

Under the proposed changes, will a landlord be allowed to require a rental applicant to provide the applicant’s social security number for the purpose of obtaining credit reports?  

Under the proposed changes, it may be an unfair housing practice for a landlord to require a rental applicant to provide a social security number for the purpose of obtaining credit reports. It is possible for a landlord to obtain credit reports and perform additional screening without the use of a social security number.

Under the proposed changes, in situations where federal guidelines prevent the local housing authority from renting certain specific units to households containing at least one undocumented immigrant, will it be a violation of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance for the housing agency to reject rental applications submitted by households with at least one undocumented immigrant for those specific units?

The proposed changes allow an exception to rejecting an application where required by law.

I rent out one or several of the rooms in the house that I own and live in. Do the proposed changes apply to the house that I own and live in?

The City of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance does not prohibit an owner or lessee from limiting occupancy of rooms in buildings occupied by no more than two families living independently of each other if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such rooms as his or her residence.

I own a duplex and live in one of the parts of the duplex. I only rent the other part of the duplex to one family at a time, do the proposed changes apply to my duplex?  

The City of Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance does not prohibit an owner or lessee from limiting occupancy of rooms in buildings occupied by no more than two families living independently of each other if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such rooms as his or her residence.

Under the proposed changes, are employers required to hire job applicants that are undocumented immigrants?

An employer must comply with federal and Colorado law. Current federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1324a) and Colorado law (HB 06S-1017) require an employer to affirm the legal work status of any newly hired employee within twenty days of hiring. The proposed ordinance provides an exception to discrimination in employment practices where verification of legal work status is required by law.

 

 

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