The Colorado department of human services (department) operates numerous facilities in the state that provide direct care to vulnerable people, including veterans and their families, youth in rehabilitation programs, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and people with mental health diagnoses. Current law specifies when an employee of the department (employee) will be suspended or dismissed after being charged with specified criminal offenses. However, the department has encountered difficulty in suspending, dismissing, or otherwise disciplining employees through the administrative process when the employee was involved in an egregious incident of mistreatment of a vulnerable person but was not convicted of a criminal offense. The bill specifies that:
- In considering a disciplinary action against an employee for engaging in mistreatment, abuse, exploitation, or neglect against a vulnerable person, the appointing authority shall give predominant weight to the safety of vulnerable persons over the interests of any other person.
- If the disciplinary action includes a written finding by the appointing authority that the employee has engaged in mistreatment, abuse, exploitation, or neglect against a vulnerable person, the employee is presumed to have engaged in serious and flagrant willful misconduct or serious and flagrant willful failure to perform his or her duties (presumption).
- If the employee petitions for a hearing before the state personnel board, the presumption may be rebutted only if the employee presents clear and convincing evidence to contradict and overcome the appointing authority's finding that the employee has engaged in mistreatment, abuse, exploitation, or neglect against a vulnerable person.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)