Can Colorado employment law protect a fired at-will employee?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2021 | Employment Law |

Employee protections are important in Colorado and they shield workers from many illegal behaviors that might happen in the workplace. That includes discrimination, wage issues, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. However, there are certain laws that that do allow for employers to dismiss an employee if they choose to do so. Of course, if the employee suspects it was based on illegality, there is legal recourse. One part of employment law that might be confusing is employment-at-will. If a person was an at-will employee and was fired, there are options to lodge a complaint if the circumstances warrant it.

Understanding employment-at-will and possible exceptions

Based on employment-at-will, unless there is a contract between the employer and employee that says otherwise, the employer can fire the worker at any time. On the other side of the coin, the employee can resign if he or she chooses to. No reason needs to be given. There might be exceptions to the law in specific situations. For example, if the firing is due to discrimination, a public policy violation or a contract not being adhered to, then the employee might have a legal case.

Regarding discrimination, there are many reasons that this could happen. Employers might discriminate based on the worker’s race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion and more. If this is suspected and the employer simply chalks up the dismissal to the right to do so based on employment-at-will, it is imperative to gather evidence that it was because of discrimination. A public policy violation might be a worker being injured on the job and seeking workers’ compensation, for activities that have nothing to do with work but are perfectly legal, or lodging a complaint about sexual harassment. When there is a contract, then the employer must abide by it especially in terminating the employee. Failure to do so might not fall under employment-at-will.

Having professional help can be key after being fired

Workers do not simply need to accept it at face value when terminated. If a violation of the law is suspected, it is important to understand what can be done. Consulting with those experienced in all areas of employment law can be crucial to seeking justice, getting the job back or receiving compensation. This is the first step to be fully protected after losing a job.