Denver, CO– Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate today unveiled legislation to protect workers from retaliation when they expose safety-related issues. HB20-1415 is sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and Tom Sullivan and Senators Brittany Pettersen and Robert Rodriguez.
“Colorado has very few protections for workers who speak out or raise concerns around workplace health and safety standards, leaving too many people unprotected and facing retaliation during this deadly global pandemic,” said Rep. Herod, D-Denver. “This policy will ensure that if a worker speaks out about the health and safety of their workplace, they can not be fired, or otherwise retaliated against. Here in Colorado, workers won’t have to choose between their health and their paycheck.”
“Coloradans shouldn’t fear retaliation if they call out their employer for unsafe working conditions,” said Sen. Pettersen, D-Lakewood. “In times of such heightened health dangers and economic insecurity, we need to ensure that people can return to work safely and not be confronted with the choice of risking their life or losing their job.”
“For businesses to safely reopen, we have to keep workers healthy, and that means protecting them from being fired when they report safety issues,” said Rep. Sullivan, D-Centennial. “Workers are the state’s first line of defense to identify unsafe situations where COVID-19 can easily spread. The pandemic is not over, and workers should not be punished for speaking up.”
“Workers need their voices to be protected and businesses need to be held accountable,” said Se. Rodriguez, D-Denver. “Our community has been weathering a destructive storm for months and people are desperate to get back to work and provide for their families. At the same time, businesses need to take seriously the concerns raised by their employees and not dismiss or punish those who come forward. We need to work together on the road to recovery and prioritize one another’s health first.”
Colorado has few state-level whistleblower protections, relying primarily on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which take years to process retaliation claims. HB20-1415 protects Colorado workers from retaliation when they raise concerns about the health and safety of their workplace to their employer, fellow coworkers, the public, government agencies or the media. It grants workers the right to wear protective equipment to work, and it requires employers to inform employees of their rights to blow the whistle on unsafe conditions. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is charged with managing complaints.
Organizations in Support: Colorado AFL-CIO, Colorado People’s Alliance, American Federation of Teachers, Communication Workers of America Local 7, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, Towards Justice, Service Employees International Union Local 105, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Denver Area Labor Federation, Colorado Jobs with Justice