Southwest Airlines Files Challenge to the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

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.

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Coming August 2022: Colorado Substantially Limits Noncompete Agreements

Beginning August 10, 2022, Colorado will drastically narrow the circumstances in which Colorado employers can seek to enforce noncompete and other restrictive employment agreements. Despite Colorado law already having a general restriction against the use of noncompete agreements, the Colorado General Assembly recently passed, and Gov. Jared Polis has now signed, HB 22-1317. With this bill, Colorado joins the growing number of states enacting increased employee protections against restrictive covenant agreements, including banning such agreements with workers earning below a certain threshold.

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Summary of Cal/OSHA’s Revised COVID-19 ETS Adopted on April 21, 2022

On April 21, 2022, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards (Cal/OSHA) Board voted to readopt its COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards (ETS) incorporating changes Cal/OSHA posted in preparation of its business meeting on April 21, 2022. If approved by the Office of Administrative Law (which is expected), the revised ETS will become effective upon filing by the Office of Administrative Law with the Secretary of State. This is the third readoption of the ETS, which was authorized by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order and will be in place until December 31, 2022.

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Colorado Issues New Guidance on Prohibition Against Forfeiture of Earned Vacation or PTO

A series of recent developments in Colorado law have made it clear that employers are prohibited from causing employees to forfeit earned vacation time. A compilation of recent developments and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s current position are contained in Interpretive Notice & Formal Opinion (INFO) #14, which explains that:

  1. Employees must be paid all earned vacation pay when their job ends.
  2. No employment policy or agreement can waive or forfeit earned vacation at any time.
  3. All paid leave which can be used at the discretion of the employee is considered “vacation pay” subject to the non-forfeiture rules.

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Colorado Increases Its Criminal Penalty for Violations of Its Noncompete Law

On July 6, 2021, the Colorado legislature passed S.B. 21-271 in an effort to reform the sentencing provisions related to a number of petty offenses and misdemeanors. As a result, several Colorado laws related to labor and employment are affected, including Colorado’s statute addressing restrictive covenant and noncompete agreements, C.R.S. § 8-2-113. Under C.R.S. § 8-2-113, it is unlawful to intimidate workers in order to limit their ability to engage in lawful work; and covenants that restrict trade, such as noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements, are void unless the covenants fit within limited exceptions provided under the statute. Effective March 1, 2022, the penalty for violating the noncompete statute will be increased to a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 120 days in jail, or a fine of up to $750, or both.

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Summary of Cal/OSHA’s Revised COVID-19 ETS Adopted on December 16, 2021

On December 16, 2021, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards (Cal/OSHA) Board voted to re-adopt its COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards (ETS) incorporating changes Cal/OSHA posted in preparation of its business meeting on December 16, 2021. If approved by the Office of Administrative Law (which is expected), the revised ETS will take effect on January 14, 2022 and will expire on April 14, 2022.

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