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What Every Colorado Manager and Supervisor Must Know About the “Colorado WARNING Rules”

02/23/2021

The Colorado WARNING Rules implement Colorado’s new labor acts of 2019 through 2021, which includes:

  1. Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Act (“PHEW”), C.R.S. § 8-14.4-101, et seq. (effective July 11, 2020);
  2. Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”), C.R.S. § 8-13.3-401, et seq. (effective July 14, 2020);
  3. Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (“EPEWA”), C.R.S. §§ 8-5-101 et seq. (effective January 1, 2021);
  4. Chance to Compete Act, C.R.S. §§ 8-2-130 (effective Aug. 2, 2019);
  5. Clarify enforcement of existing laws, including the Colorado Wage Act (C.R.S. Title 8, Article 4); and
  6. COMPS Order (7 CCR 1103-1).

Every Colorado employer, manager, and supervisor must be aware of the prohibition for retaliation of complaints regarding the subject matter of each of these new laws. To start, there is a required poster titled “Colorado Workplace Public Health Rights Poster: Effective January 1, 2021, PAID LEAVE, WHISTLEBLOWING, & PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT,” which summarizes employee rights and employer obligations under PHEW and HFWA.  It is then the employer’s responsibility to update and train its managers and supervisors to identify, report and investigate employee complaints under the Colorado WARNING Rules.  Below is a summary of subject matter which should initially be considered as protected and then analyzed and addressed for compliance.

Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Act (“PHEW”) – Employers cannot retaliate against employees complaining about workplace health concerns and the use of protective equipment.

Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”) – Employers cannot retaliate against employees who: (1) requests or takes HFWA leave; (2) informs or assists another person in exercising HFWA rights; (3) files an HFWA complaint; or (4) cooperates/assists in the investigation of an HFWA violation.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (“EPEWA”) – Employers cannot retaliate against employees complaining about a perceived violation of the employer’s obligations under EPEWA, including obligations to post wage ranges and promotional opportunities.

Chance to Compete Act – Employers cannot retaliate against job applicants for complaining about violations of the Act, which includes asking for criminal history in the initial application or posting job descriptions discouraging those with a criminal history.

Colorado Wage Act – Employers cannot retaliate against employees making complaints of unpaid wages.

COMPS Order - No employer shall intimidate, threaten, restrain, coerce, blacklist, discharge, or in any manner discriminate against any employee who has filed any complaint, instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding for the protections under the Order including minimum wage, overtime, and required breaks.

Today, the best course of action to address these areas of potential retaliation is to update the employer’s anti-retaliation policies to include the above subject matter and train each manager and supervisor on possible employee complaints that could be protected by these acts. Training, policy revisions, and time and attention to these matters will help mitigate and prevent administrative claims.

For questions, concerns, or to discuss these new Acts, please reach out to Moye White's Employment Group

A version of this article was published in the April 7 edition of Colorado Real Estate Journal's Property Management Quarterly and in ColoradoBiz.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie D. Loughner

Attorney