Proposed bills to protect Colorado employees

Vic Vela
Posted 1/28/13

Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit a Colorado employer from using someone’s consumer credit …

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Proposed bills to protect Colorado employees


Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit a Colorado employer from using someone’s consumer credit information as a factor in hiring, “if the information is unrelated to the job.”

“A lot of people have fallen on hard economic times,” he said. “But that should be punishment enough. That doesn’t mean they’re more prone to engage in unethical work practices.”

Ulibarri’s bill states that employers using credit history to make a hiring decision “has increased dramatically” over the years. And those practices create “chronic barriers” for people applying for work after suffering recent job losses because they are more likely to have lower credit scores.

The bill would require employers to notify applicants whenever their credit information resulted in an “adverse” hiring determination.

And it would allow applicants to bring suit against employers who violate the law’s provisions.

Ulibarri’s bill makes an exception for employers in fields where one’s credit history is “substantially job-related,” such as those in the financial sector.

But the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce opposes Ulibarri’s bill “because it significantly restricts the ability of employers to gather critical information about potential employees before making hiring decisions,” said spokeswoman Kate Horle in an emailed statement.

“Consumer reports, such as as credit reports gathered as part of background checks, are an important piece of information for prospective employers, especially when the position includes access to confidential or proprietary information,” the statement reads.

Horle also notes that current Colorado law already restricts how employers use applicants’ credit information.

‘Intimate’ information

The Chamber also opposes a separate bill that would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee or job applicant to provide user names or passwords to their personal email, social media, or any other type of “electronic communications” accounts.

The bill would prohibit employers to in any way discipline current employees, or refuse to hire applicants, just because they did not provide their user name or password information.

The bill makes an exception for employers to seek information on employee’s personal accounts if a worker is under investigation for work-related wrongdoing, such as downloading proprietary information.

And it would not apply to work accounts, such as work emails.

Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, is the lead sponsor of the bill, with Ulibarri lending support in the senate. Ulibarri said that the information on someone’s personal social networking or email accounts should be private.

He said it would be wrong for employers to learn that one of their workers is pregnant, gay, or other personal details about their lives, and then use that information against the employee or applicant.

“Those kinds of things have no bearing on a person’s ability to do a job,” Ulibarri said. “It’s intimate and personal and it’s meant to be so.

But Horle said that the bill would “provide a private right of action against employers.”

She also said the bill doesn’t address gray areas, such as a business providing a subsidy to a worker who uses his or her personal cell phone for job-related purposes.

“The bill is not drafted as tightly as we’d like to see,” she said.

But Ulibarri said personal details of someone’s life is an area that needs to be protected.

“There’s a level of privacy we’ve lost but we need to recover,” Ulibarri said.

legislature, bill, ulibarri, employers, economy, williams


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