The state House Committee on Finance passed legislation June 6 to protect whistleblowers during health emergencies.
Sponsored by Reps. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) and Leslie Herod (D-Denver), the bill passed by a vote of 7-4.
“The bill we passed today would ensure that workers feel empowered to speak out when their employers are putting health and safety at risk,” Herod said in a news release.
“As this pandemic has shown us, this policy will not only benefit workers, it will benefit our communities and the broader public. Public health is a collective effort, and we need everyone to know that they won’t face workplace retaliation for doing the right thing.”
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, coworkers, the public, or government agencies. It gives 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.
“We’re working to get Colorado back to work and back on track as safely and responsibly as we can,” Sullivan said. “That means making sure that all workplaces put health and safety first, and protecting employees who speak out when they see wrongdoing.
“This bill will hopefully give workers the confidence to make their voices heard without fear of losing their jobs.”