Denver, CO — Governor Jared Polis today signed new legislation into law to help Colorado safely reopen by protecting workers from retaliation when they report workplace safety concerns. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and Tom Sullivan, and Senators Brittany Pettersen and Robert Rodriguez.
“With ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at workplaces in our state, we must empower workers to speak up to protect themselves and their colleagues,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “No one should be fired in Colorado for doing their part to help our state safely reopen or for protecting customers, workers or students from unsafe conditions.”
“People need to feel safe going to their employers about workplace safety concerns,” said Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood. “Unfortunately during the COVID outbreak, too many workers experienced retaliation when they spoke up. This new law will ensure that all Coloradans can return to work safely without being forced to choose between risking their life or losing their job.”
“If we don’t keep our workforce safe, then more Coloradans will fall sick, and our economic recovery will leave behind those who are struggling the most,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial. “These whistleblower protections will help Coloradans stay safe at work, give employees the essential right to wear a mask and keep our economic recovery on track by reducing the number and frequency of COVID-19 outbreaks.”
“In order for Colorado to continue safely reopening, we must ensure that workers’ voices are heard,” said Sen. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver. “Businesses need to take seriously the concerns raised by their employees and not dismiss or punish those who come forward. This law will protect Coloradans and promote transparency and receptivity in the workplace. ”
Until now, Colorado has had few state-level whistleblower protections, relying primarily on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which can 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, or government agencies.
The vast majority of businesses are being responsible and are working to keep people safe during this pandemic, but there are workers who have been fired simply because they raised concerns about safety procedures in their workplace. The new law grants workers the right to wear protective equipment, such as masks, 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 will manage implementation and investigate complaints.