Small business group decries “sue your boss” law

Tony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi

The director of a small business advocacy group in Colorado has vehemently decried the enactment of a state law that makes it easier for workers to sue their employers.

Tony Gagliardi, state director of the National Federal of Independent Business, blasted Gov. John Hickenlooper for signing what Gagliardi dubbed the sue your boss bill.

“House Bill 1136 was the acid test of whether or not the governor was a man of his word. In signing this needless, punitive assault on Main Street enterprises, the promise he made in his State-of-the-State address to create a favorable environment for small businesses to thrive in now rings hollow and insincere,” Gagliardi said.

“That he should turn his back on his own small business roots adds an extra element to the betrayal many small business owners feel,” Gagliardi added. “There is very little he can do now that will salvage his reputation with the biggest job creators in Colorado.”

“Today’s signing of HB 1136 goes one step past disappointing toward despair.  The only people celebrating today’s action are the microscopic sliver of job creators at employment law firms, who now have a new tool to sue mom and pop companies.”

HB 1136 makes it easier to sue employers under Colorado law for an expanded classes of economic damages as well as for non-economic damages. These non-economic damages include emotional pain, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.

Gagliardi said it’s already illegal to discriminate against employees in Colorado, no matter what size the business. In enterprises with 15 or fewer employees, a successful litigant can win reinstatement of his or her job and back pay.

According to the most recent report from the Colorado Civil Rights Division, 339 employment discrimination claims were filed in a single year — and 313 were dismissed as having no merit. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about 111,500 Colorado firms employ between 1 and 19 employees. Those firms account for 89 percent of all companies in the state and employ a total of 395,200 workers.