Bill extending whistleblower protections to local government workers gets House approval

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Cities, counties and school districts would be subject to the same whistleblower laws that apply to state workers under a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado House on Wednesday.

The measure, HB1078, mandates that local governments could not use any disciplinary action against an employee who reveals problems with how their governments run.

Like state workers, local government employees could, without being retaliated against, report such things as violations of state, federal or local government policies, wasting or misusing taxpayer money, fraud, abusing authority, mismanagement or endangering the health or safety of employees, students or the public.

“What (the bill) does is it would bring the current whistleblower protections that we afford state employees into line exactly, word for word, in substance with whistleblower protections that will be provided by this bill to school district employees, municipal employees and county employees,” said Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, who introduced the measure.

When state workers attempt to report issues with their agencies, they first report it to the Colorado Department of Personnel. Local government workers, however, would have the option of using an administrative law judge if they and their employers agree, or go directly to district court if they don’t.

The bill would allow an employee to file a written complaint with the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts, a division of the state personnel department. From there, the complaint either would go to a law judge or district court.

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