Colorado employees get small legislative victory

May 12 2015

Some of our readers might remember a joint announcement some years ago by the Colorado Department of Labor and the U.S. Labor Department. The two teamed up to say they stood together against the misclassification of employees.

As you know, the misclassification of employees — often done in the construction business — is many times a ruse designed to lower costs for the employer at the expense of workers who are injured on the job. Because the workers are misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, they can be ruled ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits by the state.

The executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said at the time of the 2011 announcement that misclassification of workers “costs everyone.” She said it creates “an unlevel playing field” and it causes “responsible businesses to suffer unfair competition.”

Because the cheaters count employees as independent contractors, they can avoid paying for unemployment compensation benefits and, perhaps even more important, dodge paying for workers’ compensation insurance. This lowers their costs, enabling them to put in artificially low bids on jobs.

Recently, the state legislature rejected a bill that many critics argued would have made it easier for employers to misclassify workers. Senate Bill 269, sponsored by state Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, would have created a list employers could check off to determine if a worker qualified as a contractor.

If you are a Denver construction worker who has been hurt on the job and you are unfairly being denied workers’ comp benefits, speak to an attorney experienced in helping clients navigate the appeals process. The appeal can be worth so much, including present and future medical care as well as present and future wage replacement.