In 2012, Consolidation Coal Company installed an attendance tracking system for payroll purposes at a mine in West Virginia. The system was a biometric hand scanner that creates and stores electronic information about an individual's hand geometry for purposes of future identification. Mr. Butcher, an evangelical Christian, who had worked at the mine for thirty-five (35) years, stated that his religious beliefs prohibited him from submitting to the scanning and requested a religious accommodation. Mr. Butcher gave his manager a letter explaining his beliefs about the relationship between hand scanning technology and the Mark of the Beast. As discussed in the Book of Revelation, the Bible describes, "a beast that has authority on earth during end times and forces all people, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads." (Rev. 13:16-17). Some Christians believe that technology will be used to implement the mark. Mr. Butcher proposed that the mine allow him to continue submitting his time and attendance manually as he had previously done, or that he be permitted to clock in and out with his supervisor.
Our office has received a number of calls from employees of Colorado companies who are currently working overseas. Their employment, and litigating legal issues arising in their employment, raises interesting questions of venue, jurisdiction, and conflict of law. For example, an employee may live in New Jersey and work in Afghanistan for a company based in Colorado. These cases present a conflict of laws question because it is unclear which state, or even which countries', laws should apply to the employment dispute. Similarly, some employment agreements contain a forum selection clause that requires the employee to bring a lawsuit in a different state or even a different country than where the individual resides.
A former McDonald's worker in Pennsylvania is suing the franchise owner, but not the whole corporation, saying she was required to receive her wages through a debit card that charged fees.
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").
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.