Employee reductions in force and "downsizing" are an unfortunate part of the employment relationship. An employer's decision to retain certain employees, while terminating or laying off others, may lead the discharged workers to feel that they were discriminated against. To minimize the risk of potential litigation, many employers offer departing employees money or benefits in exchange for a waiver of liability for all claims connected with the employment relationship, including discrimination claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Equal Pay Act ("EPA").
Business owners have a responsibility to comply with state and federal employment laws. In general, laws that govern discrimination, harassment and employment contracts are aimed at protecting employees from being unfairly mistreated, fired or denied a position. However, because Colorado is an at-will employment state, a person can generally be fired at any time as long as there is no ill motive in the termination.
Running a business can have a seemingly endless supply of challenges and legal issues that an owner must confront. In the interest of creating and maintaining the success of a business, there are times when an employer must make unpopular choices to protect his or her professional and personal interests. It is therefore very important to consult with a legal professional prior to making these decisions in order to avoid a lengthy and costly lawsuit.
With so many of our armed forces veterans returning home from active duty we found this recent article discussing the seven signs of employment discrimination against veterans rather timely. In the spirit of helping Denver-area employers remain compliant here are seven of the most commonly seen signs of workplace discrimination against veterans as well as the laws that protect them.
A former deputy with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has filed a lawsuit claiming employment discrimination when he was terminated in May of 2010. The lawsuit claims his termination was in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. His wrongful termination suit alleges Sheriff's Office supervisors made negative comments about the plaintiff's military service, including one comment from a supervisor that the plaintiff was letting his team down when he attended reserve duty.
Once an employee files an internal or EEOC claim of discrimination he or she may worry about retaliation from his or her employer. And, once a claim of employment discrimination is filed, every action taken by a supervisor or human resources personnel will be closely reviewed so it is important for employers to be aware of this while still being able to enforce the rules of conduct they expect each of their employees to follow.
Terminating an employee is never easy. However, sometimes it has to be done.
Although many changes have been made in terms of workplace safety, wage and hour laws and employee protections sexual harassment remains a very serious issue in many work environments. No employee in Denver or anywhere else has to suffer in a hostile work environment where promotions are based on sexuality, inappropriate jokes are told or unwanted sexual advancements are made.
Justly or unjustly, many Colorado businesses have been accused of wrongfully terminating employees for any number of reasons. Facing this kind of suit is perhaps the worst nightmare for many employers, as allegations of employment discrimination and wrongful termination are often perpetuated in the press without sharing both sides of the story. That can lead to damage to a company's reputation, even in cases in which the heads of a company believed they were acting in good faith.
There may be times when the facts surrounding a wrongful termination case can be fairly cut and dry. Then, there are those times when a "he said, she said" case comes along. This type of wrongful termination case can be virtually impossible to prove, one way or the other, without witnesses to the alleged behavior. Such was the case in Colorado when a former employee of the Trinidad Ambulance District filed a civil suit against the district, its director and a paramedic for alleged sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The complaint was filed on Oct. 20 in the Las Animas County District Court.