Colorado Passes Legislation to Protect Whistleblowers in Public Health Emergencies

On June 6th, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 20-1415, which aims to protect whistleblowers during public health emergencies. The bill states that employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against an employee who raises “any concern about workplace health and safety practices related to a public health emergency” to the employer. Additionally, the employer cannot retaliate or discriminate against an employee who chooses to go public with the information “if the workplace health and safety practices fail to meet guidelines” established by state health agencies. An employee is also free to wear their own personal protective equipment without facing retaliatory actions from their employer.

The bill was sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and Tom Sullivan and Senators Brittany Pettersen and Robert Rodriguez.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal reports that before this HB 20-1415, the state of Colorado had minimal whistleblower protections that were “relying primarily on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which takes years to process retaliation claims.” This new bill was introduced and passed partly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Rep. Herod said in a press release, “as this pandemic has shown us, this policy will not only benefit workers, it will benefit our communities and the broader public.”

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