Just where is the part some business groups negotiated on the Equal Pay measure?
DENVER, May 13, 2019—The representative association for Colorado’s small-business owners today asked anyone who may have seen it just where the protection against frivolous lawsuits given to Main Street enterprises in Senate Bill 85 fled to.
“We can’t find it,” said Tony Gagliardi, Colorado state director for NFIB. “As Senate Bill 85 worked its legislative way to passage, all business groups were rightfully concerned that it not become anything more than a lawyer-enriching vehicle. Assured by the bill’s authors that a pre-litigation phase would have to be met, first, through a review by the state Dept. of Labor before a lawsuit could commence, some business groups removed their opposition to SB 85. But any careful reading of the bill fails to find where that first step is written.”
Also poring over the bill for NFIB was one of its leadership council members, Dan Block, an employment and general business attorney at Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C. in Denver. “There is no language in the bill requiring a person asserting a violation of the law to go through an administrative procedure as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit a court. Instead, that person can bypass an administrative procedure that might result in a resolution of the dispute without the time and expense involved in a lawsuit.”
Small businesses are acutely more sensitive to — and more victimized by — frivolous lawsuits than bigger businesses, many of which have legal counsel on their payrolls. Sometimes, it just makes more economic sense to shutter the shop than keep paying exorbitant attorney costs—even though employers might be in the right.
NFIB has delivered a letter to Gov. Jared Polis asking for a veto of Senate Bill 85.
The last time NFIB polled on the litigation issue, it found, “Most cases do not go to court. By a 9-to-1 margin, they are settled before trial. However, many small-business owners are disappointed. About half feel that they are pushed into settlement by their insurer when they would prefer to fight.”
NFIB strongly supports equal employment opportunity and appropriate enforcement of the federal Equal Pay Act, which protects all employees, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Federal and Colorado law already prohibits gender discrimination, including workplace compensation and benefits, but so-called “equal pay” legislation proposed in states are typically little more than increased penalties for behavior that is already against the law. While increasing penalties may enrich a few attorneys who file questionable lawsuits against numerous small-business owners who don’t have the resources to fight frivolous cases in court, they will do little or nothing to improve wages for women.
Further comment on the state of small business in Colorado is available from Gagliardi at 303-325-6243.
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven association. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.
National Federation of Independent Business/Colorado
1580 Logan St. Suite 520
Denver, CO 80203