A Major Win in the Courts for Colorado’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

In a historic victory for hardworking Coloradans and small businesses across the state of Colorado, the Colorado Supreme Court – the highest court in the state – unanimously upheld the state’s paid family and medical leave law, paving the way for its continued implementation and a successful launch of benefits in 2024.
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A Better Balance celebrates a legal victory for paid family and medical leave in Colorado. In a unanimous decision issued this morning, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld Colorado’s paid family and medical leave law, the “FAMLI Act,” concluding that the law is constitutional.

For years, A Better Balance’s Colorado Office has worked closely with coalition partners across the State and played an integral role in the movement for paid family and medical leave (PFML) in Colorado. This work led Colorado voters to pass the FAMLI Act at the ballot in 2020. When opponents of the program filed a legal challenge against this voter-approved program, ABB took immediate action to defend it. We were proud to file an amicus brief making both legal and policy arguments in support of the law on behalf of A Better Balance, seven Colorado-based policy and labor organizations, and the individual ballot filers of Prop. 118. The amicus brief provided the Court with evidence of the critical unmet needs in Colorado that will be addressed by the FAMLI Act and demonstrated how the program will promote racial and gender equity in Colorado. We were also thrilled that our close partners at Good Business Colorado and Small Business Majority joined individual business owners to file a second amicus brief making the business case for paid leave, specifically pointing to the ways in which access to paid leave increases employee retention, productivity, creates a healthier workplace, and helps small businesses in a tough labor market.

The recent victory before the Colorado Supreme Court arose out of a lawsuit arguing that the FAMLI Act violated the Colorado Constitution’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), which places unique fiscal constraints on Colorado’s government. Opponents of FAMLI claimed that the program’s funding mechanism – wage-based fees called “premiums” paid by employers and employees – violates specific language in TABOR. In late 2021, a lower state court judge upheld the FAMLI Act in full and dismissed the case. The Colorado Supreme Court then agreed to hear the case on direct appeal and has now issued a decision upholding the constitutionality of the FAMLI program. 

ABB is proud to have worked for years in Colorado and around the country to pass, implement, and defend paid leave laws. We applaud the Colorado Supreme Court’s clear and strong decision in this case, a ruling which will impact over 2.5 million Colorado workers. In addition to ensuring that Coloradans will be able to take paid family and medical leave beginning in 2024, this decision will make Colorado a more equitable and healthier place to live, work, and do business. We look forward to working together with our coalition partners and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to ensure the law is implemented successfully in the months ahead.

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