Colorado follows an employment-at-will doctrine, meaning that both employers and employees aren’t required to give notice or advance notice of termination or resignation (unless there is a contract that says otherwise). In other words, you are free to leave your job whenever, for any reason, or even for no reason, with no legal consequence. At the same time, employers may also terminate your employment for any reason, or even for no reason, but keep in mind that private and public employers in Colorado cannot violate any wrongful termination statutes when firing you.
Wrongful termination is not a magic legal term that you can use when you were fired. In fact, wrongful termination lawsuits can be very complex, requiring evidence that proves the firing was wrongful. If you believe that your employer violated U.S. law when firing you, then it’s critical to call Denver wrongful termination lawyer Raymond Bryant of the Civil Rights Litigation Group. Consultations are always free, so call today at (720) 515-6165.
Wrongful termination federal laws
In order to better gauge whether or not you were the victim of wrongful termination, it’s best to first get the answer to, “What is wrongful termination?” First of all, wrongful termination is not “I’m angry about being fired.” Even though Colorado is employment-at-will, there are certain exceptions to this legal doctrine.
For instance, if your Colorado employer fires you for discriminatory reasons or in retaliation for exercising your rights, then you may have a case for wrongful termination. Additionally, you may have a case if there is an employment contract, either express or implied, that limits the employer’s right to terminate employment.
In terms of federal laws, one of the main provisions protecting employees is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits all forms of retaliation, including wrongful termination (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces wrongful termination claims for discriminatory reasons, retaliation, and for contract violations. With regards to Title VII, it’s important to note that it only applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as federal and state employers.
At the state level, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (Co. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402) also prohibits all forms of retaliation, including wrongful termination, and this law applies to all employers, regardless of their number of employees.
Reasons for wrongful termination
There are many reasons for a wrongful termination lawsuit, but it’s important to note that virtually every wrongful termination lawsuit has three elements:
- The employee filing the lawsuit must have been employed by the employer
- The employer fired the employee
- The employee was fired for exercising a job-related right or privilege to which he or she was entitled
Some job-related rights or privileges are detailed below:
Fired for discriminatory reasons — In Colorado, as well as elsewhere in the U.S., it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee based on his/her protected status, such as race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, and pregnancy.
Breach of Contract — If you have an employment contract (written, oral, or implied) promising job security, then you are not an employment-at-will employee. If the employer then fires you without good cause, then you may have a legal claim for breach of contract.
Wage and Hour Issues — You have certain wage rights as an employee, and if you file a complaint with the state’s wage board, or something similar, then your employer cannot fire you as a retaliatory measure.
Whistleblowing — If you witness your employer engaged in unlawful practices, and you speak out about it, then your employer cannot fire you as a retaliatory measure.
Time Off Work — In Colorado, employers may not discipline or fire workers for exercising their rights for time off, such as military leave, jury duty, voting, FMLA, and other protected leave.
Other Issues — Employers may not fire employees for filing workers’ compensation claims, reporting workplace safety violations, engaging in lawful activities while off-duty and off work premises, and for refusing to engage in illegal activity or for exercising important job-related rights.
Call wrongful termination lawyer Raymond Bryant
By filing a wrongful termination lawsuit, you are petitioning the courts to hold the responsible individual(s) accountable for these unlawful actions. However, in many cases, you may have to first report to the EEOC prior to bringing the action to court. As such, it’s essential to speak with a prominent Denver employee rights attorney who can assess the validity and strength of your claim, while providing expert counsel about the next steps to take. To speak with attorney Bryant regarding your wrongful termination claim, call the Civil Rights Litigation Group in Denver at (720) 515-6165.
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.
Social media is everywhere, and it’s certainly getting easier to vet frustrations or complaints about work on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and so forth. Unfortunately, employers can monitor (or can easily see) their employees’ social media accounts, and in some cases, a social media blunder can result in an employee’s termination.
The National Labor Relations Board receives thousands of complaints every year from employees who said they were fired for their social media activity. Often, these employees want to know if it is legal for an employer to fire an employee over a social media post. As a leading employee rights attorney located right here in Denver, attorney Raymond K. Bryant of the Civil Rights Litigation Group law firm provides aggressive legal representation for Colorado employees who had their rights violated. If you were fired over a social media post, call our Denver law firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
First Amendment rights and at-will employment
Despite employee protections, it’s important to remember that Colorado is an “employment-at-will” state, which means that neither an employer nor an employee is required to give notice or advance notice of termination or resignation. In other words, an employer can fire an employee for any reason (or for no reason) as long as the firing isn’t based on discriminatory practices, such as the employee’s race, disability, sexual orientation, gender, etc.
Secondly, it is essential to know that the Constitution’s First Amendment doesn’t apply to private employers in many cases. Within limits, the government may dictate what people can or cannot say, but this restriction doesn’t apply to a private company.
Protections for online posts and content
Despite the employment-at-will status in Colorado, employees have a wide variety of legal protections that limit an employer’s right to discipline or fire employees for what they posted online or in social media. Especially for job-related posts, the National Labor Relations Board instituted strong protections for employees who post statements or comments about their employer, workplace, job, and so forth. Known as protected concerted activities, the National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ rights to communicate about the terms and conditions of employment. Therefore, if an employee makes a negative post about working conditions, that action may be a protected concerted activity for which the employee cannot be fired.
Other protections for online posts may include:
Colorado Lawful Off-Duty Conduct / Employee Privacy Law — An employer cannot terminate an employee for the employee’s lawful, off-duty activities. If the employee isn’t “on the clock” and is off the workplace premises, the employer cannot fire him/her as long as his/her activities were lawful.
Political Messages Protections — Employers cannot terminate an employee based on his/her political beliefs or views
Retaliation — Both state and federal laws protect employees from retaliation for reporting problems in the workplace, such as discrimination, harassment, and unsafe working conditions.
Contact the Civil Rights Litigation Group in Denver today
If you were terminated because of a social media post or other content, you may want to contact a Colorado civil rights attorney as soon as possible. In some cases, the employer’s action could be wrongful termination. With years protecting Colorado workers against unlawful termination, civil rights attorney Raymond K. Bryant knows what it takes for a successful case. We will work with you, one-on-one, to ensure thorough communication and interaction, and we’ll aggressively and diligently pursue your case in Colorado courts. To get started on your case with a free, no-obligation consultation, call our Denver law office today at 720-515-6165.