The 2023 Colorado legislative session ended with the state significantly increasing employee protections through several laws that either created new protections or materially amended current protections.
On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock signed Bill 22-1614 after it passed the Denver City Council the previous day by unanimous vote. With the Bill’s passage comes increased penalties and new requirements related to wage theft, specifically including joint liability for general contractors, effective upon publication.
Denver’s minimum wage ordinance imposes a current minimum wage of $17.29 per hour, and before Bill 22-1614 passed, the ordinance provided certain penalties for employers that did not pay their workers based on the designated minimum wage. Indeed, prior to the bill’s passing, Denver’s minimum wage ordinance allowed employees to file complaints to the City Auditor within one year of a violation and provided a private right of action for three years to employees to seek to recover unpaid wages plus 12% interest, $100 for each day the violation continued, and liquidated damages three times the amount of unpaid wages.
Colorado’s long-anticipated Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program is right around the corner for employee use — but employer requirements are already here. Effective January 1, 2023, employers have certain obligations under the FAMLI program, including notice requirements and upcoming premium payments. Below is a refresh on FAMLI program basics, an outline of current FAMLI program requirements, considerations for the upcoming months in preparation for 2024, and some additional information regarding private FAMLI programs.
Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (the HFWA) requires employers provide up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave — often referred to as public health emergency leave (PHEL) — when a public health emergency is declared. As we previously described, this leave is awarded in addition to employees’ regular paid sick leave required by Colorado law. C.R.S. § 8-13.3-405. PHEL is provided per public health emergency and is to be used for reasons specifically connected to the public health emergency.
On March 8, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a non-compete agreement was not enforceable because the employer seeking to enforce the agreement had presented it to the employee, and the employee had signed it, before the employee’s first day of work. A few months later, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law a new statute requiring that notice of a non-compete agreement be provided to prospective employees before they accept an offer of employment.
In finding a non-compete provision must strictly comply with Louisiana law, the court in Rouses Enterprises, L.L.C. v. Clapp, No. 21-30293 (5th Cir. Mar. 8, 2022), found that Louisiana law (LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 23:921(A)(1)) permits certain non-compete agreements between employers and employees, but not between job applicants and potential employers. Thus, the court reasoned, a non-compete agreement signed by a prospective employee before her actual date of hire was unenforceable.
Southwest Airlines Co. has filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado challenging the application of the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) to its Colorado employees.
The complaint, which names Scott Moss in his capacity as the director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Labor and Statistics, along with Philip J. Weiser in his capacity as the attorney general of Colorado, alleges that the application of the HFWA to Southwest employees is preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act and the federal Railway Labor Act, and that it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.