Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute requires caution before discharge

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Colorado employees are protected from being fired for engaging in lawful activities while off duty that are unrelated to their job duties. The Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute was meant to provide a shield to employees who engage in activities that may be personally distasteful to their employers, but are otherwise legal.

Employers should carefully consider discharging someone if it appears that off-duty activities may be a factor. It’s crucial to tie disciplinary action to legitimate job concerns apart from any outside activities. That’s what saved the employer in the following case.

Recent case: Victoria Yarbrough worked for ADT and had trouble getting along with a co-worker. In fact, the two got into regular shouting and shoving matches. Management warned both of them that their personal feud was disruptive and must stop. It continued.

Then Yarbrough got a restraining order against the co-worker—which the sheriff’s department served at work. ADT fired both employees, citing their disruptive behavior.

Yarbrough sued, alleging that she had engaged in lawful off-duty activities—obtaining a restraining order against the co-worker—and had been fired as a result. But the court said it was clear that ADT fired the women for causing disruption, not because Yarbrough got the restraining order. (Yarbrough v. ADT Security Services, No. 07-CV-01564, DC CO, 2008)

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