The HR Specialist: Colorado Employment Law

A report released by Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher in October accused employees in the Denver International Airport’s (DIA) Snow Operation Support Program of willfully collecting nearly $7,000 in unearned overtime pay.

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Mary Barone had worked for United Airlines since 1995. In 2005, she was promoted to manager of business process administration in Denver. Eventually, Barone sued for discrimination and retaliation, alleging constructive discharge—essentially that she had no choice but to resign.

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Employees making Title VII discrimination claims must file their complaints with the EEOC before filing a federal lawsuit … most of the time, but not always.

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Sometimes, it makes sense to settle an EEOC complaint rather than risk a lawsuit and all the costs that go along with litigation. Of course, that settlement probably will come out of some department’s budget. Warn the department manager to take the hit with grace and resist the temptation to show anger or resentment.

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Good news: Employees who allege they were fired for blowing the whistle on their employers for activities that violated the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act can’t also sue under Colorado’s common-law public-policy exception to at-will employment.

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An employee who can’t prove she actually suffered discrimination can still win a retaliation lawsuit—if she can show that her employer retaliated against her for complaining about alleged discrimination. That doesn’t mean, however, that anything negative that happens to the employee adds up to retaliation.

 

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Employees who are classified as exempt under the FLSA can be paid on a salary basis and must work as many hours as necessary to get the work done. However, some employers make such frequent changes to the salary levels of exempt employees that it can almost seem as if the employees are being paid on an hourly basis. When that happens, the employer loses the right to skip paying overtime.

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If you decide to terminate an employee who simply won’t follow instructions and is the source of constant trouble, go ahead and provide a laundry list of reasons. As long as the reasons are legitimate, the list will help set him apart from others who may not have been fired for breaking the rules.

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Pamela Stoney worked as a sales manager for Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless (subsequently AT&T) in Colorado. After the company fired her for insubordination, Stoney filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, claiming age and gender discrimination and retaliation …

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Could a stressed-out employee who makes veiled threats be a danger to himself or others? It’s the kind of quandary that keeps HR pros awake at night. And because the stakes are potentially high, it’s hard to know what to do. The most prudent course of action: Suspend the employee until you can sort matters out.

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