The HR Specialist: Colorado Employment Law, Author at Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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The HR Specialist: Colorado Employment Law

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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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No one likes a layoff, especially the affected employees—who may look for a reason to sue. Smart employers can stop many baseless lawsuits by using objective, neutral criteria to select which workers will lose their jobs. That’s what happened in the following case …

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Employers sometimes forget that just because a condition has a name and can be serious, it doesn’t always mean it’s a disability. In one recent case, an admitted alcoholic who had undergone inpatient treatment was deemed not to be disabled under the ADA and therefore not entitled to reasonable accommodations …

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Beginning Jan. 1, Colorado State University will offer domestic-partner benefits to eligible employees.

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Under the ADA, employees who aren’t actually disabled can nonetheless sue employers if the employers erroneously perceive them to be disabled. But there’s good news on this arcane ADA front …

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Government employees who want to sue because they believe their right to due process has been denied must prove they belong to an identifiable class, such as one based on race or sex. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled they cannot simply claim they were singled out by their government employer for poor treatment …

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It sometimes feels ominous when an employee accuses the company or a supervisor of discrimination and takes a complaint to the EEOC or some other agency. But those cases often reach settlement before they get out of hand. Then everyone has to get along, especially if the settlement includes reinstating the employee. HR should take the lead in making sure a potentially awkward situation works smoothly.

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Cyclone Drilling Company of Gillette has agreed to pay $45,000 to Mark Lujan for sexual harassment he said he endured while working at a drilling rig on the Western Slope. The EEOC filed the lawsuit, claiming Lujan’s supervisor, Jim Stout, subjected him to inappropriate sexual remarks …

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Gov. Bill Ritter recently signed into law the 2008 Professional Employer Organizations Modernization Act, which promises greater security for small businesses that rely on PEOs to provide outsourced HR management, employee benefits, payroll and workers’ compensation services …

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A report released in September by U.S. Inspector General Earl Devaney revealed a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” at the Royalty in Kind (RIK) division of the federal Minerals Management Service in Lakewood …

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Employees who file discrimination complaints are protected from retaliation. That doesn’t mean they’re immune from being punished if they break rules. Employers can and should take appropriate disciplinary action against them. The key is a careful and deliberate approach, devoid of emotion …

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