COVID-19 Legal FAQ Update – Whistleblower Protections (HB 20-1415)

Memorandum

From:  CEA Legal Center

Date: July 21, 2020

RE:  COVID-19 Legal FAQ Update – Whistleblower Protections (HB 20-1415)


This memorandum serves as a guidance to frequently asked questions presented to the CEA Legal team regarding how to respond to the unprecedented epidemic sweeping our nation. The FAQ’s will be updated as we address questions from the field. Please be patient and understand that these circumstances present new and uncharted areas of law. CEA Legal will provide the best advice it can based on its understanding of current law however, the law is unclear in many areas.

Question: Do educators have any whistleblower rights to protect them retaliation if they report their school district for unsafe working environment?

Answer: On July 11, 2020, Governor Polis signed HB 20-1415 providing whistleblower rights to employees from discrimination and/or retaliation if they raise health and safety concerns related to a public health emergency. This Bill prohibits employers, including school districts, from taking adverse action or otherwise retaliating against workers who, in good faith, raise reasonable concerns about violations of governmental health or safety rules. It also prohibits retaliation against workers who raise reasonable concerns about significant workplace threats to health or safety related to a public health emergency. It prohibits employers from requiring workers to sign contracts which limit
or prevent the worker from disclosing information about workplace health or safety
practices or hazards relating to a public health emergency, or otherwise limiting or
preventing such disclosures. Employers are also prohibited from taking adverse action
against workers wearing masks or other personal protective equipment.

You can access the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment “know your rights”
for whistleblowers at the following link:

INFO #5: Public health emergency whistleblower rights

The text of the Bill itself can be found at the following link:
H.B. 20-1415 – Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Law (“PHEW”)

Leaders and staff who believe that members have suffered retaliation as a result of the
practices prohibited by this Bill are urged to contact CEA Legal.