I recently had a consultation with an executive recruiter who stated that he recommended a specific worker to one of his corporate clients. However, after numerous interviews, the company decided not to hire this particular worker, simply because she was unemployed. Discrimination against the unemployed is rampant. Certain employers will not consider applicants who have been unemployed for more than six (6) months; while other jobs ads explicitly require applicants to be "currently employed," at the time of application. As of today, only Washington D.C. has a law making it illegal to discriminate against the unemployed. Oregon and New Jersey currently ban discriminatory language in job listings but not the practice of excluding unemployed applicants. Several other states are considering legislation on similar measures; including allowing unsuccessful applicants to sue under the same discrimination laws that apply to race or gender bias. However, it is unclear whether state laws would have much impact. New Jersey's law has been in place since 2011, and to date only one company has been cited for violations. As part of the ill-fated American Jobs Act in 2011, President Obama proposed banning job ads that discourage the unemployed and giving spurned job-seekers a way to file claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The Bill, however, did not make it through Congress. In Colorado, a House Bill forbidding employers from stating in job postings that unemployed candidates would not be considered was struck down in 2012.
While volunteering at an employment law legal clinic recently a prospective client called in about a problem she was facing at work. The woman was approved for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") as a caregiver for her son but also needed to have surgery. Her employer told her that any time off for the surgery and recovery would also count against her FMLA leave and she wanted to know if that was legal.
On May 29, 2014, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law, Senate Bill 14-005, which is also called the Wage Protection Act. This bill authorizes the Colorado Department of Labor ("CDLE") to develop an administrative process to handle wage claim cases. Wage claim cases consist of a variety of grievances including but not limited to: violations of minimum wage laws, failure to pay overtime wages, forcing workers to work off the clock, withholding a worker's final paycheck, withholding gratuity from tipped workers, failing to provide required paid breaks or unpaid lunch periods and complete non-payment for labor performed.
While discrimination by employers with any amount of employees is illegal; until recently, the law in Colorado made a distinction between employers with fifteen or fewer employees. The previous law limited available remedies, even in cases of intentional discrimination, to those damages which "make the employee whole," namely earning back pay or getting their position back.
On November 6, 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 which allows for the recreational use of marijuana, thereby expanding the state's lax marijuana policies following the legalization of medical marijuana use in 2000. The newest Amendment, which was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on January 6, 2013, allows for adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow as many as six (6) plants in the privacy of their homes.