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Colorado’s 2019 Legislative Session Expected to Bring a Slew of Workplace Bills

Colorado’s 2019 Legislative Session begins January 4, 2019,FN1 and, with a new Democratic governor and the Democratic party controlling both chambers of the General Assembly, we expect to see the introduction of numerous workplace and arbitration related bills with potentially far-reaching, and onerous, effects on employers. The following bills, which failed in previous years, likely will be the focus of serious debate between now and late May 2019, when the legislative session is scheduled to end:

1.     Bills designed to hinder the use of arbitration in employment and consumer disputes by requiring arbitrators to, among other things, publicize confidential information about past arbitrations, and that allow a party to enjoin an arbitration when an arbitrator supposedly is “potentially impartial.”FN2

2.     A bill to create a family and medical leave insurance program, which would give employees of all sizes of employers the right to protected leave for 12 weeks in a year (during which time employers must keep the position open and maintain existing health benefits).FN3 The version of this bill introduced in 2018 attempted to create an employee-funded family and medical leave program, and made employees eligible for leave after working only 90 days for any employer.

3.     “Ban the box” legislation, which would prevent employers from asking applicants about their criminal histories in initial job applications.FN4

4.     Legislation focused on gender pay equity and limiting the questions employers can ask about applicants’ past salaries.FN5

This may be a consequential year for workplace laws in Colorado. We will keep you posted on developments throughout the session to give you opportunities to testify about your experiences before the General Assembly and prepare well in advance for changes in the law.

Footnotes

FN1:   The 2019 Legislative Session is opening a week earlier than in typical years. See Patti Dahlberg, Surprise! The 2019 Legislative Session Convening a Week Earlier, Colorado LegiSource (Sep. 20, 2018), https://legisource.net/2018/09/20/surprise-the-2019-legislative-session-convening-a-week-earlier/

FN2:   For similar legislation introduced in 2018, see HB 18-1261(https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb18-1261) and HB 18-1262 (https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb18-1262). For a previous blog article discussing these bills, see also http://www.rockymountainemployersblog.com/blog/2018/4/26/arbitration-agreements-under-fire-in-the-metoo-era

FN3:   For similar legislation introduced in 2019, see HB 18-1001 (https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb18-1001); see also http://www.rockymountainemployersblog.com/blog/2018/2/1/overview-of-newly-proposed-colorado-employment-laws

FN4:   For similar legislation introduced in 2017, see HB 17-1305 (https://legiscan.com/CO/text/HB1305/2017)

FN5:   For similar legislation introduced in 2016, see HB 16-1166 (https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb16-1166)