On June 11, 2020, Governor Polis signed HB 20-1415, which prohibits most employers and entities that rely on independent contractors for a specified percentage of their workforce, from discriminating, retaliating, or taking adverse action against any workers who either:
- Raise a concern about workplace health and safety practices or hazards related to a public health emergency to the employer, other workers, a government agency, or the public, if the workplace health and safety practices fail to meet guidelines established by a federal, state, or local public health agency with jurisdiction over the workplace;
- Voluntarily wear their own personal protective equipment at the workplace, if that equipment provides a higher level of protection than the equipment provided by the employer, is recommended by an appropriate governmental authority, and the equipment does not interfere with performance of the work for the employer, or
- Oppose any practice that the worker reasonably believes is a violation of this law, file a charge or testify, or assist others or participate in an investigation, administrative proceeding or hearing, regarding matters covered by this law.
A person may seek relief for a violation of the bill by:
- Filing a complaint with the division of labor standards and statistics in the department of labor and employment;
- Bringing an action in district court, after exhausting administrative remedies; or
- Bringing a whistleblower action in the name of the state in district court, after exhausting administrative remedies.
Remedies for violation of this law are broad and include an award of reasonable attorney’s fees, and possible reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages. This law takes effect on July 14, 2020 and applies to actions taken on or after that date. For concerns about conduct that occurred before July 14, 2020, common law remedies may be available. Employers must post a notice about this law in a conspicuous place.
PSB Law has handled a variety of COVID whistleblower matters, on behalf of employees and employers. Please visit our website, www.psblawfirm.com, or call 303-442-5111 for assistance and additional information.