DENVER, CO – The House Public and Behavioral Health Committee today passed legislation sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and Tom Sullivan to continue critical whistleblower protections regarding workers’ health and safety.
“Extending protections for essential workers is the right move to keep our workers and the public safe,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “This bill will permanently extend the worker reporting protections we put in place during the pandemic so Coloradans can report safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation. Coloradans should feel safe speaking out about workplace conditions that could harm them or their colleagues and this bill prioritizes their protection.”
“Essential workers shouldn’t be worried about losing their job or having their wages slashed for reporting unsafe or unhygienic working conditions,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial. “During the 2020 statewide public health emergencies, we gave workers the necessary protection to report health and safety concerns without fear of retaliation. This new bill extends those reporting protections for workers so they can feel safe on the job whether we’re experiencing a pandemic or not.”
In 2020, the legislature passed legislation establishing protections for whistleblowers during a public health emergency. SB22-097 would make these protections permanent. The bill protects workers in the public and private sectors by ensuring that all workers have the same protections, including the ability to raise concerns about workplace health and safety practices or hazards to their employer, other workers, the public or government agencies. The bill passed the House Public and Behavioral Health Committee by a vote of 8 to 4.
The legislation also protects workers from retaliation, discrimination, or adverse action, allows workers to wear personal protective equipment while at work without fear of discrimination, and requires employers to notify employees of their rights.
When employees do raise concerns, various remedy options are included under the bill including filing a claim with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) or bringing an action in court. The legislation also gives CDLE the authority to enforce and investigate claims.