“It could have been worse” isn’t the type of report anyone likes to hear from the State Capitol. However in 2013, despite the passage of the “Sue Your Boss Bill,” most legislation expanding litigation either died or was significantly scaled back, thanks to common-sense cooperation from legislators in both parties.
Of nine bills initially opposed by CCJL, four were defeated and three others were significantly amended to eliminate or greatly reduce the potential for new litigation. Other than “Sue Your Boss,” the other bill (HB 1222) that passed – expanding family leave – was scaled back to have minimal impact on employers. CCJL remained opposed solely because sponsors chose to use litigation as an enforcement tool rather than an administrative complaint process.
On the other hand, a bipartisan coalition of legislators came together to kill these ill-advised measures:
- HB 1227 – Stacking the Deck Against Employers in Wage Disputes
- HB 1249 – Judicial Process for Residential Foreclosures
- SB 62 – New Liability for Businesses that Prohibit Firearms
- SB 196 – Expanded Liability for ‘Assault Weapons’
To those legislators who sincerely worked to find reasonable means of solving problems without more litigation, we say “thank you!”
The Governor had to make a choice. Unfortunately, the one he made wasn’t good for Colorado job-creators – or for the 99% of workers who don’t file frivolous lawsuits and just want a good job they can count on.
You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. — Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former U.S. Senator (D-New York)
Last Friday, the Denver Post printed a house editorial purporting to endorse House Bill 1136 (“New Opportunities to Sue Your Employer”). However, anyone who was familiar with the bill and subsequently read the Post’s editorial had to wonder, “What bill is the Post talking about?”
Even when we disagree with the Post’s editorial decisions, we usually can figure out where they’re coming from. On this issue, however, so much of the Post’s support seems to be based on either a lack of understanding of the bill or of the status quo, that we are left to conclude that supporters of the bill pulled a fast one on the Post.
What’s puzzling is why the Post editorial writers didn’t bother, at least, to get the other side of the story before printing what amounts to a “fantasy” endorsement.
CO-LAW now offers this complimentary fact-checking service for future reference of editorial writers elsewhere: Read more
Job creators now have one more cost to weigh against the potential benefits of hiring a new employee.
Colorado lawmakers are just one step away from handing trial lawyers a giant sledgehammer to use against the state’s job creators – especially small business owners.
On Friday, the Colorado Senate passed House Bill 1136 which threatens Colorado employers with up to $300,000 in claims for “emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish (and) loss of enjoyment of life.”
Just last month, job creation in Colorado slowed to a meager 500 new jobs statewide – down from 10,800 in February and 7,100 in January. Passing this bill certainly isn’t good news for job creators – or job seekers. Here’s why: Read more
Two years ago when Colorado legislators killed a bill very much like this year’s House Bill 1136, which exposes business owners to as much as $300,000 in new claims for “emotional pain and suffering,” an unexpected voice applauded the defeat of that bill.
Pueblo’s Al Gurule is an icon of the Chicano movement. In 1968, he and a classmate picketed the State Capitol to demand a special session on civil rights issues. The next year, he helped sponsor the first Chicano student organization at Southern Colorado State College (now CSU-Pueblo).
Demanding changes in the way Chicanos were treated, Gurule led student protests against Safeway, in support of Caesar Chavez’s La Causa, and a demonstration at the college pub to protest hiring practices of Coors Brewery.
He became the La Raza Unida Party’s candidate for Governor and was later elected to the Pueblo city council, also serving as its president. He is also a business owner.
“It is tragic that a needed legitimate framework of laws has been hijacked by opportunists filing frivolous lawsuits on the backs of true victims that span the history of our country,” Gurule wrote in a Pueblo Chieftain column.
Senate Bill 72 (2011) made many of the same changes now proposed in House Bill 1136, which passed the Colorado House last week and could be debated in the Senate as early as today.
“As a Hispanic and civil rights advocate who has experienced racism, I find it revolting that some individuals utilize laws that were meant to protect people with valid claims as a means of making money and holding an employer hostage with ambulance chasing attorneys,” he continued. Read more
Push comes to shove this week in the Colorado House of Representatives when legislators are expected to vote on House Bill 1136, the trial lawyer-backed bill that threatens to throw a wet blanket on job creation – except, perhaps, for jobs working for trial lawyers.
HB 1136 will subject Colorado employers to lawsuits claiming up to $300,000 in damages for “emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish (and) loss of enjoyment of life.” Under the bill, Colorado will find itself at a terrible disadvantage against neighboring states when seeking to attract new jobs or employers. Most neighboring states do not allow such a mouth-watering buffet of financial incentives for trial lawyers to launch an all-out assault on employers.
Worse still, employers will bear the cost of fighting far more frivolous lawsuits — $25,000 to $50,000 without ever going to trial. Both the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report that more than 90% of all employment discrimination claims lack merit. Read more
On a bipartisan 10-1 vote, Representatives on the House Business & Labor Committee voted sensibly to kill House Bill 1249, a misguided overhaul of Colorado’s residential foreclosure procedures.
The bill would have created costly new burdens for the 98% of homebuyers who pay their mortgages on time, while benefiting only the 0.17% of homebuyers who dispute foreclosure proceedings.
Voting to kill the bill were Reps. Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland), Millie Hamner (D-Dillon), Chris Holbert (R-Parker), Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff (R-Pueblo), Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs), Sue Ryden (D-Aurora), Libby Szabo (R-Arvada), Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada) and Angela Williams (D-Denver). The lone vote supporting the bill was Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs).
A report by Colorado Public Advocate explains why Wisconsin lawmakers chose to repeal – just two years after it was enacted – a law much like Colorado House Bill 1136:
A controversial legislative proposal that would significantly expand Colorado employers’ liability for discrimination claims was repealed by Wisconsin lawmakers after only a couple of years on that state’s books. The measure was scrapped after a backlash from Wisconsin employers, who charged the new law was a giveaway to personal-injury lawyers and a gut punch to small businesses that wound up having to pay much more to settle groundless discrimination claims.
Meanwhile, Colorado business leaders, who have been sharply critical of House Bill 1136 at the Capitol in Denver, charge it will do little to reduce real discrimination given what they say is the disappointing track record of a similar federal law. That law, enacted by Congress in 1991 and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was intended as a hedge against discrimination and sexual harassment by employers. Yet, data compiled by the commission show that discrimination claims actually have risen steadily over the years in all categories, far in excess of overall population growth, despite aggressive enforcement of the law.
The report goes on to explain that “90 percent of the claims brought are dismissed by the EEOC for not having merit.” So the real effect of bills like Wisconsin Senate Bill 20 or Colorado’s HB 1136 is to increase leverage for trial lawyers and their plaintiffs to extract larger settlements from business that often have done nothing wrong: Read more
Perhaps a handful of homebuyers who face foreclosure might realize a benefit from House Bill 1249, but the vast majority of homebuyers – those who dutifully pay their mortgages on time – will actually be harmed if this legislation passes.
Sponsors Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver) and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) undoubtedly possess the best of intentions to help homebuyers involved in foreclosure disputes. Unfortunately for the 98% of homebuyers who pay their mortgages on time, this bill will make borrowing more expensive through new restrictions on lenders and the threat of enforcement through litigation.
According to lenders, just 0.17% of homebuyers actually dispute foreclosure proceedings.
That means that for each homebuyer who might benefit from this bill, 588 homebuyers will either see no benefit or will face higher borrowing costs up front. Read more