Like other states, Colorado law affords protections to worker who witness illegal conduct in their workplaces and choose to do the right thing and report the behavior to the appropriate authorities.
These so-called whistleblower laws prevent an employer from firing or taking other adverse action against an employee simply because the employee would not tolerate illegal conduct in the workplace.
While this both protects honest workers and preserves the integrity of both the laws of this state and the federal government, their scope is not unlimited, and it is important for a worker to understand when they are protected, and when they are not protected, should they choose to make a report of illegal conduct.
One background principle is that a worker who chooses to blow the whistle is still expected to follow all other workplace laws and procedures. If the worker happens to break another rule, he or she may be disciplined for that violation.
Moreover, an employee must also be careful about how he or she goes about making a report. For one, an employee who is reporting an employer who works on contract with the state must only report truthful information or, at a minimum, information that he or she made some effort to vet for truthfulness. An employee has no right to report information that is legally confidential.
Finally, the employee has to make some effort to tell his or her supervisor or another appropriate party before he or she goes public with the report of unlawful activity.
Although it is important for an employee to know the nuance of the law when blowing the whistle on his or her company, the bottom line is that protection are available to employees who choose to come forward about unlawful conduct in the workplace. An employer who chooses to retaliate against an employee despite these protections may face legal consequences.