57: Companies Liable for any Injury
This initiative has been withdrawn
The unions have withdrawn initiatives 53, 55, 56, & 57. They will still appear on the ballot but will not be counted. The anti-union initiatives 47, 49, & 54 remain on the ballot - please vote no on them.
The measure would require every employer in Colorado to provide their employees with a "safe and healthy work environment." Failure to comply with obligations of the measure, if passed, would open employers to damage lawsuits that could be filed by injured employees, in addition to any claims through the workers compensation system. No definition of "safe and healthy" is included in the proposal.
This initiative is part of the union's response that will destroy the Labor Peace Act of 1943.
Ok, so what exactly is a "safe & healthy" workplace? If a company brings in donuts for all employees, well donuts are bad for you and that is not healthy. Could an employee with cholesterol issues then sue? No one knows. The courts will decide over time.
Also, just how big a problem is this? No workplace is 100% safe, just as no home is. But there have not been any stories, not any, about unsafe working conditions in Colorado recently. This is a solution looking for a problem. (And attorneys will invent the problem to then win awards in court.)
In addition, to continue with the incredibly successful Colorado Labor Peace Act of 1943, this (and the other 6 peace act violators) must be defeated.
The amendment allows an injured employee - currently entitled to damages and the full protection of the law - to double-dip and collect all of the benefits from the Workers Compensation Act no-fault system of liability, and to sue the company through District Court. This new dual system will dramatically raise insurance costs and other costs of doing business in Colorado, which will result in lower wages, lost benefits and lawsuit abuse.
This system will cost business and in response those businesses will need to reduce salaries and cut benefits. Companies that don’t leave the state may choose to reduce their labor force to fewer than 10 employees, transition employees to seasonal, part-time and independent contractor status, to avoid the impact of this costly measure.
The Amendment will create legal paralysis. The measure is a trial lawyers dream and a small employer’s nightmare. Despite the fact the amendment allows an injured employee to sue 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 by the initiative. The language is confusing, misleading and likely to trigger damaging unintended consequences.
The workers' compensation system does not always meet the needs of injured employees. While an injured employee already receives medical care at no cost, the choice of doctor and treatment options are limited. Further, an injured employee who is unable to work may receive wage payments that are far below the employee's previous take-home earnings. By allowing the courts to review individual cases, Amendment 57 establishes another avenue for employees to seek compensation for injuries, such as pain and suffering, beyond the benefits provided by workers' compensation.
Secretary of State
Come join the discussion on this initiative at any of the following blogs:
Liberal & Loving It
Coloradans for Responsible Reform
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
The Colorado Economic Leadership Coalition
Protect Colorado's Future
Copyright© 2014 by David Thielen. All Rights Reserved