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All Quiet on the Legislative Front (to some extent)

    February 14, 2024
    By Michael Santo, COSHRM Legislative Director and Managing Attorney at Bechtel & Santo

    If one could pick a single word to describe the Colorado Legislature’s production of employment/Human Resource bills so far this Legislative Session that one word would be: “kind of quiet.” I mean, not that anyone is complaining about it being “kind of quiet”, right? Well, you may be complaining right now because “kind of quiet” is really three words. But after a stretch of a few years where we’ve seen the Colorado Legislature pass the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HWFA”), amendments to HFWA, the Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights Act (“POWR”), the Equal Pay Act, and the amendments to the EPA, not to mention Colorado voters passing FAMLI and the Colorado Department implementing the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards, the start to the 2024 Legislative year seems like it’s started a little more quietly than the past few years. Again, not that anyone is complaining about that. 

    Then again, it’s also possible that it’s starting to pick up speed. After all, in the last two weeks, 14 new employment/HR bills have been “dropped” as the cool kids like to say when a bill is officially proposed. So, what’s new in the Colorado legislature, you ask? In short: 

    Prohibition Against Employee Discipline (HB24-2160). Seriously. That’s the name of the bill listed on the Labor & Employment Section of the General Assembly’s webpage. I kid you not. Of course, titles can be deceiving, as this one is, and this bill’s purpose is much more limiting than completely prohibiting disciplining an employee. That is, HB24-2160 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to attend meetings, listen to a speech, or view communications concerning religious or political matters. The bill also prohibits an employer from threatening an employee, subjecting an employee to discipline, or discharging an employee on account of the employee’s refusal to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting where the employer communicates religious or political matters or opinions.

    The bill would create a private right of action in district court for aggrieved persons who prevail in court seeking payment of front pay, lost wages and compensation, costs, and attorney fees. Finally, if passed, each employer will be required to post a notice of the employee rights outlined in the bill at the employer’s workplace. Now, the bill does create a couple of exemptions. For example, if the information is necessary for the employee to perform the employee’s job or if the discussion is “casual conservation” between employees and the employer where participation in the conversation isn’t “required.”  But even with those exceptions, the old maxim of “never discuss politics or religion at work” won’t just be a good idea, it will be a law. 

    Payment of Family & Medical Leave Benefits (HB24-155). HB24-155 would permit the Colorado Department of Labor to obtain reimbursement from a workers’ compensation insurer if an employee received both FAMLI benefits and temporary indemnity benefits for the same absence and the bill allows the insurer to offset benefits in the amount reimbursed. Further, HB24-155, if passed, would permit the division to access workers’ compensation records regarding compensability and benefit payments for determining if an individual is receiving both workers’ compensation claims and FAMLI benefits. In short, this bill would make it considerably easier for the CDLE to determine if an individual is “double-dipping” FAMLI and workers’ compensations.

    Additionally, two bills that were mentioned in the last COSHRM Connection moved another step.  In short, the following two bills recently went to appropriations:

    • Workplace Suicide Prevention Education (HB24-1015). This bill would require the Colorado Department of Labor to create suicide prevention education posters and notices that Colorado employers would need to start posting in 2025. These posters must:
      • Include an overview of multiple suicide prevention training programs.
      • Provide educational materials on the need to reduce access to lethal means.
      • Include information on 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifelines.   
      • Feature a QR code and a website link that connect to a landing page through CDPHE specifically for workplace suicide prevention. 
    • Wage Claims Construction Industry Contractors (HB24-1008). Definitely one of the more interesting HR bills in the early days of this Legislative Session is HB24-1008.  This bill, if passed, would provide a construction employee with the right to file a claim against the general contractor on a construction project even though the employee is employed by the subcontractor, not the general contractor. In essence, the bill identifies that both the subcontractor and the general contractor will be jointly and severally liable for the wage claim of an employee of a subcontractor. This bill would also provide general contractors the right to require subcontractors to provide the general contractor a lot of information regarding the subcontractor’s payroll practices, including whether the subcontractor has participated in a civil or administrative proceeding within the last five years. 

    In sum, things are definitely picking up on the legislative front, even if we haven’t seen any bill proposed that has quite the same impact as those over the last couple of years. But then again, it’s February. Pitchers and catchers have only just started arriving for Spring Training. So, it’s definitely too early to “pop the champagne cork” on how quiet the 2024 Legislative year was for HR issues. 

    Questions? Email