Colorado Employment Laws: Governance and Implications

Posted by BairdQuinn on July 18th, 2011

Employment laws play a crucial role in protecting the rights of employees and protecting them from any discrimination or harassment in the workplace. These laws are also meant to establish a healthy relationship between employees and employers. Employment and labor laws in Colorado are interpreted by the local, state and federal judiciary. The objective of these laws is to protect the rights of the employees, as well as their employers, against any unlawful offenses, which may harm either of the parties. Our attorneys, who are employment lawyers in Colorado, possess sound knowledge of various employment and labor laws and their implications in the state. Here are the some of the important laws and their implication in the state of Colorado:

Discrimination /Harassment- There are certain federal and state laws designed to protect employees from any discrimination, or physical, mental, or emotional harassment by employers.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to, hiring, firing, promotions, pay rate, wages, working hours, and other classifications or designations based on the race, religion, sex or nationality of the employee. Other acts prohibit discrimination on other grounds.  For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) protects the rights of disabled employees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) protects the rights of employees who are at least forty (40) years of age or older from discrimination based on age.  Employment in Colorado, including those at Baird Quinn LLC, can help employers and employees address these issues.  For example, we help employees file Ccharges of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or Colorado Civil Rights Division (“CCRD”).  We also can help employers defend against such Charges.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. FMLA applies to all public and private employers with 50 or more employees.

Wage and Overtime Laws: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") the employers must pay a minimum wage and pay overtime compensation at one and one-half times the regular hourly rate to employees who work for over 40 hours in a workweek.  Employers may not pay lower wages strictly on the basis of prohibited characteristics such as gender.   

Trade Secret/Non-Competition Agreements: The Colorado Uniform Trade Secrets Act recognizes the right of a business to protect its confidential trade secret information and provides remedies for the unlawful misappropriation of trade secrets by employees.  Colorado law prohibits non-competition and non-solicitation agreements except in limited circumstances, including contracts with executive and management personnel, contracts for the sale of a business and contracts established for the protection of trade secrets,  .

In addition, Colorado courts have established the following common law principles applicable to employment law:

Wrongful Discharge: In Colorado, employees are presumed to be “at-will,” meaning that either the employer or employee may ordinarily end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason.  Even an employee discharged under “unfair” circumstances may be prevented from asserting a claim due to the employee’s at-will status. Employers are legally barred, however, from discharging an “at-will” employee under certain circumstances, including a wrongful discharge in violation of Colorado public policy.  

Employment Contracts: A written employment contract is a document that an employee and employer sign setting forth the terms of their relationship. Certain employers and employees should consider entering into written employment agreements to clearly defines their respective rights and obligations.

Author Bio:

J. Mark Baird and Beth Doherty Quinn, the employment law attorneys at Baird Quinn, LLC have practiced law for more than 25 years and 15 years, respectively, with an emphasis on employment law and labor-management.  They have extensive experience litigating employment law matters,  including discrimination, harassment, unlawful termination, wage and hour, retaliation, unfair labor practice, non-compete/employee loyalty, and breach of contract.  They also litigate commercial fraud matters.  Not only have they represented clients before a variety of administrative agencies and courts, Mr. Baird and Ms. Doherty Quinn have conducted numerous seminars, such as seminars on ADA compliance, and in-house training for clients regarding sexual harassment and other Title VII discrimination issues as well.

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Joined: July 18th, 2011
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