January 18, 2022

Volume XII, Number 18

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January 15, 2022

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Colorado Broadens Whistleblower Protection for State Employees Who Disclose Confidential Information

Encouraging government whistleblowers, an amendment to Colorado law bars disciplinary actions against state employees who reveal confidential information while reporting instances of waste, mismanagement of public funds, abuses of authority, or illegal and unethical practices to a designated “whistleblower review agency.” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the amendment (SB 16-056) to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 24-50.5-101 et seq. on June 10, 2016.

The law defines whistleblower review agencies to include the office of legislative legal services, the state attorney general, or the commission on judicial discipline.

Prior to this amendment, there were no whistleblower protections for Colorado government employees who revealed confidential information exempted from disclosure by the Colorado Open Records Act or another state statute.

Now, the law protects an employee’s disclosure of confidential information if the employee first discloses the information to a review agency to determine whether the information is releasable or should remain confidential. If the information is releasable, the agency is tasked with releasing the information to members of the general assembly and to the public. The whistleblower review agency also must notify the disclosing employee’s supervisor that the agency has received the information and remind the supervisor that retaliation is prohibited (unless limited statutory exceptions apply).

The amendment does not affect the employee’s right to bring a private right of action after first bringing a complaint to the state personnel board pursuant to Section 24-50.5-105.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 184
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About this Author

Timothy Kratz, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Employment Litigation Attorney
Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Timothy M. Kratz is a Principal and the Office Litigation Manager in the Denver, Colorado, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His primary practice involves employment litigation and employer counseling.

Mr. Kratz has defended businesses in a wide variety of employment claims including those involving harassment and discrimination, disparate impact class allegations, non-compete agreements, Fair Labor Standards Act, wage and hour, and public policy discharge. He also conducts and coordinates harassment investigations and counsels...

303-892-0404
Kristen Baylis, Jackson Lewis, Labor compliance attorney, discrimination allegations lawyer,
Associate

Kristen M. Baylis is an Associate in the Denver, Colorado, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She practices primarily in the area of employment litigation.

Ms. Baylis brings to her clients knowledge and insight into the federal courts she gained while serving as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Patrick Michael Duffy, United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division. Using that insight, Ms. Baylis counsels employers to prevent litigation and defends employers in litigation with employees and...

303-892-0404
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