Denver Employment Retaliation
Our employment law firm is regularly contacted by Colorado employees who have been asked by their employers to engage in unethical or illegal behavior at work. We are also contacted by employees who have made the difficult decision to stand up to their employers to oppose the denial of important rights to which employees are entitled under Federal, state or municipal laws. Employees’ actions in refusing to engage in unethical or illegal behavior – or in insisting upon the provision of basic employee rights – can be protected activity under Federal, Colorado and Denver laws. Baird Quinn’s retaliation lawyers regularly represent employees who have been subjected to adverse employment actions – such as discipline, suspension or even termination – for refusing to engage in unethical or illegal conduct or for complaining about the denial of fundamental employee rights. We proudly represent employees who are willing to do the right thing in the face of potential retaliation. Our mission is to provide steadfast support and aggressive advocacy on behalf of those employees who have been subjected to unlawful retaliation for having engaged in protected activity.
What is Employment Retaliation?
Employment retaliation, also known as workplace retaliation, occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee in response to the employee’s legally protected activity. This can include termination, demotion, harassment, or other actions that negatively affect the employee’s terms and conditions of employment.
Examples of legally protected activities include:
- Filing a complaint about workplace discrimination, harassment, safety concerns, or other legally protected issues.
- Reporting violations of laws or regulations governing the workplace.
- Cooperating with workplace investigations into discrimination, harassment or retaliation in violation of Federal or Colorado law.
- Exercising legally protected rights, such as taking family or medical leave or requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability.
- Asking to be paid overtime or to be given breaks as required by law.
- Exposing the employer’s illegal activities, health and safety violations, or unethical behavior.
- Participating in labor union activities and collective bargaining efforts.
Employer retaliation may take many forms – but often occurs shortly after an employee’s involvement in protected activities. For example, an employer may retaliate against an employee who files a complaint about discrimination by demoting them, giving them negative performance review, or assigning them undesirable work tasks. An employer may also retaliate against an employee who reports a safety violation by firing them or reducing their hours.
Laws Prohibiting Retaliation in the Colorado Workplace
There are literally dozens of federal and state anti-retaliation or whistle-blower laws that may serve as the basis for a retaliation claim. Some require that, before a court action with a retaliation claim may be filed, an employee must first file an administrative charge with the EEOC or another governmental agency within a short time frame. Other laws allow employees to directly file a civil action without first filing an administrative claim. In the event they prevail on a retaliation claim, employees may normally recover back pay, lost benefits, front pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages and, in some cases, attorneys’ fees and costs.
Employers are prohibited from taking an adverse employment action against an employee because the employee engaged in certain “protected activities.”
These are just a few of the laws prohibiting retaliation in the workplace:
- Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit an employer from taking an adverse employment action against an employee for registering an internal discrimination complaint, filing a Charge of Discrimination, or testifying or otherwise participating in an agency investigation. EEOC-Fact-Sheet-Retaliation.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides employees with protection against retaliation for complaining about unsafe work practices.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for taking protected medical leaves of absence.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits an employer from subjecting an employee to an adverse employment action due to complaints about unlawful wage practices.
- Colorado state law prohibits employers from taking action against an employee for exercising certain work-related rights or privileges (such as filing a workers’ compensation claim) and making complaints in the public interest (such as complaints about fraudulent accounting practices).
Lowered Standard for Employment Retaliation Claim
In a 2006 decision, the United States Supreme Court lowered the standard for a retaliation claim under the federal anti-discrimination statutes. The Supreme Court determined that, in order to assert a retaliation claim, an employee need only show that the employer took an action that “well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.” Additionally, the standard for proving a causal connection is not high. For example, suspicious timing between the protected activity and adverse employment action may be sufficient, by itself, to allow employees their day in court.
Rising Colorado Employment Retaliation Claims
Employees are increasingly asserting retaliation claims against employers both before administrative agencies and in Court. In addition, statistics have shown that retaliation claims are among the most dangerous for employers, both in terms of the numbers of adverse verdicts against employers and the size of the verdicts.
Steps to Take if You Have Experienced Workplace Retaliation in Denver
If you’ve found yourself subjected to workplace retaliation in Denver, it’s important to take action to protect your rights and well-being.
- Document the Incidents: Start by meticulously documenting instances of retaliation. This includes noting dates, times, locations, individuals involved, and any witnesses. Collect any supporting evidence, such as emails, text messages, or documents related to the retaliation.
- Review Company Policies: Familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies and procedures related to reporting workplace retaliation and grievances. Follow these guidelines, as they often outline the steps to address such issues internally.
- Consult with HR: Reach out to your company’s Human Resources department to discuss the situation and report the retaliation. Keep a record of your interactions with HR, including the names of the individuals you speak with and the content of your discussions.
- Seek Legal Counsel: It’s advisable to consult with an experienced Denver Employment Retaliation Lawyer to understand your legal rights and options. They can provide invaluable guidance on how to proceed and protect your interests.
- File a Complaint: If internal measures do not lead to a resolution, you may need to file a formal complaint with the appropriate regulatory agency. In Colorado, the Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics handles wage and hour matters, while the Colorado Civil Rights Division manages discrimination and retaliation complaints.
- Keep Records: Continue to document all actions, communications, and developments related to the retaliation. Maintain a comprehensive record to provide a clear and consistent account of the situation.
- Maintain Professionalism: Throughout the process, it’s essential to maintain professionalism in your workplace conduct. Retaliation situations can be emotionally charged, but professionalism can strengthen your position.
- Explore Legal Remedies: With the guidance of your attorney, explore potential legal remedies, which may include filing a lawsuit to seek damages or injunctive relief, reinstatement, or compensation for harm suffered due to the retaliation.
Remember that each case is unique, and the appropriate steps may vary depending on the specific circumstances. Seeking legal counsel early in the process can be highly beneficial, as experienced Denver Employment Retaliation Lawyers can help you navigate the complex legal landscape, protect your rights, and pursue a just resolution. Your workplace rights deserve protection, and taking these steps is an essential part of that process.
If you have any questions regarding a potential retaliation claim, please contact one of Baird Quinn’s Colorado retaliation lawyers. We have substantial experience representing employers and employees in the evaluation and litigation of retaliation claims. You may obtain additional information regarding our retaliation lawyers at the following link.