When fired from work, it’s understandable to feel frustrated, and it can even feel as if someone unlawfully fired you or gave you the short end of the stick. However, Colorado is an employment-at-will state, which means that employers and employees can end the working relationship at any time, with or without notice, and for any reason, or no reason at all. With this definition, it may seem as if the employer has free reign to fire employees however he/she would like. Fortunately, for the employees’ sake, wrongful termination is a major exception to at-will employment.
Wrongful termination is a broad area of law, and it essentially refers to unlawful terminations due to discrimination, contract violations, violation of Colorado public policy, and so on. If you believe that you were recently discriminated against or wrongfully terminated at your job, you may have a case. The first step is to call Denver employee rights attorney Raymond Bryant at the Civil Rights Litigation Group. Representing clients throughout Denver and the surrounding areas, our law firm can look through your case, provide essentially legal counsel, and, if you have a case, represent your interests diligently, aggressively, and professionally in Colorado courts. For a free, no-obligation consultation with our law firm, call us today at 720-515-6165.
In the meantime, this month’s blog post will describe some of the nuances and differences between employment-at-will and wrongful determinations.
Employment-at-will in Colorado
Throughout the United States, with a single exception for Montana, employment relationships are generally considered to be “at-will.” At-will-employment refers to the freedom of employers and employees to terminate employment contracts. The employer can fire an employee for any reason without incurring a liability, but it’s essential to remember that employers cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason. Additionally, at-will employment means that an employer can change the terms of the relationship employment without notice nor consequences. For instance, the employer can:
- Alter wages
- Terminate benefits
- Reduce paid time off or vacation time
Unfortunately, at-will employment does have some negative effects for the Colorado worker; employees are generally vulnerable to arbitrary and sudden dismissal, a limited work schedule that depends on employer needs, and unannounced cuts in wages and benefits.
Wrongful termination and your rights
The at-will presumption for many employment disputes is very strong. If you were fired and you believe that you were fired illegally, it’s essential to show the courts that you were wrongfully terminated. For instance, some examples of wrongful termination often include:
- Public policy exceptions: The public policy exception refers to when an employee’s termination violates an explicit, well-established public policy of the state. For example, employers in Colorado cannot fire an employee because the employee filed a workers’ compensation claim after being injured on the job. The public policy exception is perhaps the most common example of wrongful termination.
- Implied contract exceptions: Another exception occurs when an implied contracted is created between the employer and the employee. In these cases, there are no express or written contracts; the implied contract can be created through the employee handbook, for example, or through oral or written statements regarding job security or discharge procedures.
- Discrimination or harassment: Federal and Colorado discrimination statutes prohibit employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s protected status, such as race, color, religion, sex, gender, disability, or veteran status.
What to do if you were wrongly terminated
If you were wrongfully fired from your job, there are some things you should do to help the wrongful termination case and hold your employer accountable for unlawful employment practices. First of all, you should never act out on any negative instincts against your employer. You should also:
- Become familiar with any associated contracts
- Ask about the reasons for your termination
- Request to view your personnel file
- Request and possibly negotiate a severance package
- Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated
Call the leading employee rights attorney Raymond Bryant
If you have been fired from your job, you may have rights as well as severance pay, damages, or unemployment compensation. One of the first steps in pursuing this legal action is to contact an experienced and knowledgeable Denver employee rights attorney. At the Civil Rights Litigation Group, we’ve helped countless individuals with their employment disputes and wrongful termination, and we have the resources and know-how to help you too. For a free, no-obligation consultation with attorney Raymond Bryant, call our Denver law office today at (720) 515-6165.