Initiative #93 – Safe and Healthy Workplace

StaffScapes review of the devastating labor initiatives on the November Ballot.

Initiative #93 would “allow an injured employee to bring an action in District Court for compensatory and punitive damages, if the employer fails to provide a safe and healthy workplace.” The term “safe and healthy workplace” is not defined in the initiative. This new action is available in addition to the rights that the employee has under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act. This initiative would apply to every employer in the state with 10 of more employees.

Listed below is the potential impact of initiative #93:

Ø      Current state and federal laws exist to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for employees.

Ø      Colorado employers already have motivation to provide a safe workplace based on their workers compensation insurance costs being directly related to work injury severity and number of claims.

Ø      Initiative 93 will allow injured employees to “double-dip”, collecting benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Act and then filing a lawsuit against the employer for unlimited damages in district court.

Ø      Businesses will be hindered by additional financial burdens due to higher insurance costs, resulting in lost jobs and increases in the price for goods and services.

Ø      Puts the responsibility of defining what a “safe and healthy workplace” is in the hands of the district courts.

Ø      With the current backlog of court cases, Initiative 93 will result in trial lawyers looking for the “quick buck” through settlements.

Should trial lawyers be rewarded with an additional state law to allow them to threaten businesses who already have to meet state and federal safe workplace standards? Should Colorado business growth and employment be restricted in order to enact an unnecessary and superfluous law? Should employees be able to double-dip and receive full benefits from the Workers Compensation Act then sue the employer for unlimited damages? Do you want employers to pay more for insurance and defense against frivolous lawsuits or increase wages and employee benefits? Do you want individual district court judges deciding what is “safe” and “healthy” and what the “workplace” is?

If the organized labor initiatives are successfully passed this November, our state’s economic growth will be dramatically stunted for years to come. Please check past editions of our blog to view the other initiatives that can have a devastating impact to Colorado.

Sources: Tomlinson & Associates; Economic Development Council of Colorado