News & Events

Colorado 2013 Labor and Employment Legislative Summary

Submitted By Firm: Jackson Kelly PLLC

Contact(s): Roger A. Wolfe


Robin Repass and Amanda Ferguson

Date Published: 1/16/2014

Article Type: Legal Update

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The Colorado Legislature passed several laws in 2013 that will significantly impact the legal landscape for employers in the state. The following is a summary of the most important changes.

Additional Remedies in Employment Discrimination Cases

On May 6, 2013, Colorado enacted the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013. The law allows compensatory and punitive damages to be awarded in cases where intentional discrimination is found, for unfair employment practices occurring on or after January 1, 2015. Punitive damages may be awarded when the plaintiff proves malice or reckless indifference by clear and convincing evidence. Compensatory and punitive damages are capped for small employers, and courts must consider the employer’s size and assets when assessing damages.

Additionally, the new law allows the courts to award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff. For employers to receive attorney’s fees, the court must find the claim to have been frivolous, groundless or vexatious.

Family Care Act Expands Leave

Effective August 7, 2013, Colorado employees in civil unions or domestic partnerships became eligible to take expanded leave to care for a significant other who has a serious health condition. Colorado House Bill 13-1222, known as the Family Care Act, allows an eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12 month period to care for the employee’s recognized partner in a civil union or the employee’s recognized domestic partner.

Restriction on Employers’ Use of Consumer Credit Information

Colorado Senate Bill 13-018 restricts employers’ abilities to use a prospective or current employee’s consumer credit information to evaluate the employee. Effective July 1, 2013, employers may no longer request an employee’s credit information or use that information to evaluate an employee, except in limited circumstances. “Consumer credit information” is defined as “information bearing on a consumer’s creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, or credit history,” and includes a credit score.

Employers may use credit information to evaluate an employee if that employee’s current or potential job falls under either one of two categories – 1) executive or management personnel with certain financial or fiduciary responsibilities, or 2) a position involving defense or national security contracts. If, under these exceptions, an employer does use that employee’s credit information, the employer must disclose its use and must offer the employee an opportunity to explain adverse credit information.

Under the new law, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) is required to investigate complaints, hold hearings on individual complaints, and issue findings within 30 days of the hearing. CDLE may award up to $2,500 in civil penalties for violations.

Social Media Access

On May 1, 2013, Colorado House Bill 13-1046 became effective, prohibiting employers from requiring current or prospective employees to disclose user names or passwords to personal accounts on the employee’s personal electronic communications device. Additionally, employers may not require an employee to change the privacy settings on the employee’s social networking account, nor require them to add anyone, including the employer, to a list of contacts associated with any social media account. The law does not apply to nonpersonal accounts or services that provide access to the employer’s internal computer or information systems.

The CDLE is required to investigate complaints, hold hearings on individual complaints, and issue findings within 30 days of the hearing. CDLE may award up to $1,000 in civil penalties for the first violation, and up to $5,000 for any subsequent violations.

Collective Bargaining by Professional Firefighters

Effective June 5, 2013, the public in any municipality, special district, or county may vote to allow professional firefighters to enter into collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with the public employer serving that political subdivision. Colorado Senate Bill 13-025 applies only to professional firefighters, not to volunteers.

If the voters approve such an arrangement, then that jurisdiction’s professional firefighters may form collective bargaining units and elect representatives. The law requires the public employers to meet and confer with the firefighters’ representatives on policies and other matters relating to their employment, including safety and equipment, but not including compensation.

In the event negotiations reach an impasse, the unresolved issues will be submitted to arbitration, and both sides will split the fees. Under a CBA, firefighters are prohibited from striking. However, any firefighter or firefighter’s organization may bring suit in district court to enforce any provision of a CBA.

Minimum Wage Raise in 2014

Colorado Minimum Wage Order 30 went into effect on January 1, 2014, setting the state’s minimum wage at $8.00 per hour.

What Can We Expect This Year?

Like last year, the Democratic Party has the majority in both the state House and Senate. But, this year, the Senate is split 18-17, and the smaller majority may have a large impact on negotiations. With the Democratic majority in both houses, we can expect to see legislation aimed at expanding workers’ rights and limiting the abilities of employers to make significant business and personnel decisions.

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Client Successes

Altra Industrial Motion Inc.

Altra Industrial Motion Inc. has multiple locations in the U.S., as well as Central America, Europe, and Asia. The Employment Law Alliance has proved to be a great asset in assisting us in dealing with employment issues and matters in such diverse venues as Mexico, Australia, and Spain. We have obtained excellent results using the ELA network for matters ranging from a multi-state review of employment policies to assisting with individual employment issues in a variety of foreign jurisdictions.

In one instance, we were faced with an employment dispute with a former associate in Mexico that had the potential for substantial economic exposure. The matter had been pending for over a year, and we were not confident in the employment advice we had been receiving. I obtained a referral to the ELA counsel in Mexico, who was able to obtain a favorable resolution of the dispute in only a few days. Based on our experiences with the ELA, we would not hesitate to use its many resources for future employment law needs.

American University in Bulgaria

In my career I have been a practicing attorney, counsel to the Governor of Maine, and CEO of a major public utility. I have worked with many lawyers in many settings. When the American University in Bulgaria needed help with employment litigation in federal court in Syracuse, New York, we turned to Pierce Atwood, the ELA member we knew and trusted in Maine, for a referral. We were extremely pleased with the responsiveness and high quality of service we received from Bond Schoeneck & King, the ELA's firm in upstate New York. I would not hesitate to recommend the ELA to any employer.

David T. Flanagan
Member of Board of Trustees 

Arcata Associates

I really enjoyed the Conducting an Effective Internal Investigation in the United States webinar.  We are in the midst of a rather delicate employee relations issue in California right now and the discussion helped me tremendously.  It also reinforced things that you tend to forget if you don't do these investigations frequently.  So, many, many thanks to the Employment Law Alliance for putting that webinar together.  It was extremely beneficial.

Lynn Clayton
Vice President, Human Resources

Barrett Business Services, Inc.

I recently participated in the ELA-sponsored webinar on the Employee Free Choice Act.  I was most impressed with that presentation.  It was extremely helpful and very worthwhile.  I have also been utilizing the ELA's online Global Employer Handbook.  This compliance tool is absolutely terrific. 

I am familiar with several other products that purport to provide up-to- date employment law information and I believe that this resource is superior to other similar compliance manuals.  I am delighted that the ELA provides this free to its members' clients.

Boyd Coffee Company

Employment Law Alliance (ELA) has provided Boyd Coffee Company with a highly valued connection to resources, important information and learning. With complex operations and employees working in approximately 20 states, we are continually striving to keep abreast of specific state laws, many of which vary from state to state. We have participated in the ELA web seminars and have found the content very useful. We appreciate the ease, cost effectiveness and quality of the content and presenters offered by these web seminars.  The Global Employer Handbook has provided our company with a very helpful overview of legal issues in the various states in which we operate, and the network of attorneys has helped us manage issues that have arisen in states other than where our Roastery and corporate headquarters are located in Portland, Oregon.

Capgemini Outsourcing Services GmbH

As an international operating outsourcing and consulting supplier Capgemini has used firms of the Employment Law Alliance in Central Europe. We were always highly satisfied with the quality of employment law advice and the responsiveness. I can really recommend the ELA lawyers.

Hirschfeld Kraemer

As an employment lawyer based in San Francisco, I work closely with high tech clients with operations around the globe. Last year, one of my clients needed to implement a workforce reduction in a dozen countries simultaneously. And they gave me 48 hours to accomplish this. I don't know how I could have pulled this off without the resources of the ELA. I don't know of any single law firm that could have made this happen. My client received all of the help they needed in a timely fashion and on a cost effective basis.

Stephen J. Hirschfeld

Hollywood Entertainment Corporation

As the Vice President for Litigation & Associate General Counsel for my company, I need to ensure that we have a team of top-notch employment lawyers in place in every jurisdiction where we do business. And I want to be confident that those lawyers know our business so they don't have to reinvent the wheel when a new legal matter arises. With more than 3400 stores and 35,000 employees operating in all 50 U.S. states and across Canada, we rely on the ELA to partner with us to help accomplish our objectives. I have been delighted with the consistent high quality of the work performed by ELA lawyers. I encourage other in-house counsel to use their services, as well.

Ingram Micro

Ingram Micro is the world's largest technology distributor, providing sales, marketing, and logistics services for the IT industry around the globe. With over 13,000 employees working throughout the U.S. and in 35 international countries, we need employment lawyers who we can count on to ensure global legal compliance. Our experience with many multi-state and multi-national law firms is that their employment law services are not always a high priority for them, and many do not have experts in many of their offices. The ELA has assembled an excellent team of highly skilled employment lawyers, wherever and whenever I need them, and they have proven to be an invaluable resource to our company.

Konami Gaming

Our company, Konami Gaming, Inc., is growing rapidly in a very diverse and highly regulated industry. We are aggressively entering new markets outside the domestic U.S., including Canada and South America. I have had the recent opportunity to utilize the services provided by the ELA. The legal advice was both responsive and professional. Most of all, the entire process was seamless since our Nevada attorney coordinated the services and legal advice requested. I look forward to working with the ELA in the future, as it serves as a great resource to the legal community.

Jennifer Martinez
Vice President, Human Resources

Nikkiso Cryo, Inc.

Until recently, I was unaware of the ELA's existence. We have subsidiaries and affiliates throughout the United States, as well as in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. When a recent legal issue arose in Texas, our long-time Nevada counsel, who is a member of the ELA, suggested that this matter be handled by his ELA colleague in Dallas. We are very pleased with the quality and timeliness of services provided by that firm, and we are excited to now have the ELA as an important asset to help us address employment law issues worldwide.

Palm, Inc.

The ELA network has been immensely important to our company in helping us address an array of human resources challenges around the world. I strongly encourage H.R. executives who have employees located in many different jurisdictions to utilize the ELA's unparalleled expertise and geographic coverage.

Stacy Murphy
Former Senior Director of Human Resources

Rich Products

As the General Counsel for a company with 6,500 employees operating across the U.S. and in eight countries, it is critical that I have top quality lawyers on the ground where we do business. The ELA is an indispensable resource. It has taken the guesswork out of finding the best employment counsel wherever we have a problem.

Jill K. Bond
Senior Vice President/General Counsel, Shared Services and Benefits

Ricoh Americas Corporation

We have direct sales and service offices all over the U.S., but have not necessarily had the need in the past for assistance with legal work in every state where we have a business presence. From time to time, we suddenly find ourselves facing a legal issue in a state where we have no outside counsel relationship. It has been a real benefit to know that the ELA has assembled such an impressive team of experts throughout the U.S. and overseas.

A few years ago, we faced a very tough discrimination lawsuit in Mississippi. We had never had to retain a lawyer there before. I was absolutely delighted with the Mississippi ELA firm. We received an excellent result. They will no doubt handle all of our employment law matters in Mississippi in the future. I have also obtained the assistance of several other ELA firms around the U.S. and have received the same outstanding service. The ELA is a tremendous resource for our company.

Roberts-Gordon LLC

Our affiliated companies have used the Employment Law Alliance in connection with numerous acquisitions, and have always been extremely pleased with our ability to obtain the highest quality legal advice on due diligence issues from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We have found the Employment Law Alliance firms to be not only first rate with respect to their legal advice but also responsive and timely in assisting us with federal and state law issues critical to our due diligence efforts. We consider the Employment Law Alliance to be an important part of our team.

Rockwell Collins, Inc.

We have partnered with many ELA firms on the development and execution of case management strategies with very positive results. We have been very pleased with the legal advice and counsel provided by the law firms we have utilized who are affiliated with the Employment Law Alliance. The ELA firms we have worked with are customer focused, responsive, and thorough in their approach to handling labor and employment law matters.

Elizabeth Daly
Assistant General Counsel


Sanmina-SCI has facilities strategically located in key regions throughout the world. Our customers expect that we will provide them with the highest quality and most sophisticated services in the marketplace. We have that same expectation for the lawyers with whom we do business. With operations in 17 countries, we need to be certain that we have a team of lawyers working together to address our employment law needs worldwide. The ELA has delivered exactly what it promised-- seamless and consistent high quality services delivered in each locale around the globe. It has quickly become a key asset for our human resources department.


We own, manage, and franchise hotels throughout the U.S. and in more than 90 countries. With more than 145,000 employees worldwide, ensuring that we comply with the complex web of local labor and employment laws in every one of these jurisdictions is a daunting task. The Employment Law Alliance has served as an important resource for us and we have benefited greatly from its expertise and long reach. When a legal dispute or issue has arisen in some far-flung place, Employment Law Alliance lawyers have always provided responsive, practical, and cost-effective assistance.

Wilmington Trust Corporation

Wilmington Trust has used the ELA to locate firms in California, Washington State, Georgia, and Europe. Our experience with the ELA lawyers with whom we have worked has always been one of complete satisfaction and prompt, practical advice.

Michael A. DiGregorio
General Counsel