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You built up your business and hired employees. Unfortunately, not all employees work out. One of the most difficult decisions that an employer faces is when (and how) to terminate employees. The last thing any business owner wants to face after making this difficult decision is a wrongful termination suit.
Colorado is an “at will” employment state, which means that there is generally no contract for employment between employers and employees. As such, employees can be fired at any time for any reason (or for no reason at all). But being an “at will” state does not allow employers to fire employees for discriminatory reasons, reasons contrary to public policy, or in retaliation for an employee exercising his or her rights. Doing so could provide grounds for an employee to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
What are some reasons that the law considers discriminatory? Federal and state law can apply to answer this question, but discriminatory reasons could be reasons that pertain to race, ancestry, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age (if the employee is over 40), sexual orientation, or transgender status.
The attorneys at Belzer Law are experienced in assessing wrongful termination lawsuits and protecting our clients from liability in such lawsuits. Our attorneys can walk you through the elements of wrongful termination claims, along with potential defenses to such claims if an employee is claiming that he or she was wrongfully terminated.
Most employers of have heard of Title VII or Title VII claims—even if they are not familiar with the specifics. When someone refers to a “Title VII claim,” they are referring to Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 19649. This is the federal law that pertains to workplace discrimination and prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex.
Employment discrimination does not just involve termination; it pertains to any “adverse employment actions.” These types of actions include firing, refusing to hire, refusing to promote, or other similar type of actions.
Title VII claims have a general procedure that is followed. First, the employee has to make a prima facie case (that is, an initial showing) that he or she was terminated for a discriminatory reason. Such discriminatory reasons can include termination—or any adverse employment action—on the basis of race, sex, or religion.
Once the employee makes his or her initial case, the employer has the opportunity to demonstrate that the reason for the adverse employment action was a legitimate non-discriminatory reason (an “LNDR”). For example, if the employee did not show up to work for two months, that would provide a legitimate non-discriminatory reason to terminate the employee.
If the employer can demonstrate this legitimate reason for the adverse employment action, the then burden shifts back to the employee to prove that employer’s asserted justification is merely a pretext or an excuse and that the employer actually acted on the basis of a discriminatory reason.
These cases can be fraught with difficulties and stress—not to mention the stigma that could affect your business if you are accused of discrimination. The attorneys at Belzer Law have experience in Title VII cases and can help you navigate the claims, defenses, and strategies to succeed in one of these claims.
In addition to federal law, Colorado law protects employees and prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age (if the employee is over 40), sexual orientation, and transgender status. These laws also make it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for asserting his or her rights.
If an employee is accusing your business of discrimination, it is important to speak to an attorney to assess the claims. There are certain procedures that the employee must follow, such as filing a complaint with a government agency, prior to filing a discrimination lawsuit.
Colorado provides employees certain rights under its wage and hour laws. These laws govern the minimum wages that an employee must be paid, along with when employees are entitled to overtime pay.
Colorado law governs the minimum wage that an employer must pay employees. Likewise, Colorado law specifies when employees are entitled to overtime pay or work breaks. It is important for employers to know and understand these laws to protect themselves against potential claims, including wage claims.
If an employee has made a wage claim against your business or filed a complaint with the Colorado wage board, it is important to act quickly to protect your business. Call the attorneys at Belzer Law to discuss the potential wage claim, along with the strengths and defenses of your position so that you can protect your business.
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