As an employee, you have certain rights in the workplace that are protected by federal and state laws via policymakers and government agencies.  Individuals need professional support and representation when facing issues such as discrimination, contract breaches, privacy and safety concerns, and problems regarding medical leave, work hours, workers compensation, and wages.  

It is worth noting that some of our liberties are protected more on the federal level while other additional liberties and limitations can vary by state.  If your employer denies you any of these rights, then an employment lawsuit against the person or company could be necessary. However, the first step to any employment action is first understanding your rights. Below, our local Colorado attorneys discuss federal and state workplace rights and protections.

How do Federal Employment Laws compare to Colorado state laws?

Federal employment laws offer extensive protections to employees in all states.  The federal agency that enforces this protection is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).  Colorado  enforces laws prohibiting discrimination via the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics investigates compensation disputes. There are numerous notable laws that have been passed throughout America’s history, but here are some major ones worth knowing about:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law sets standards for wages, including a federal minimum wage, and overtime compensation. It also contains special rules for workers under the age of 18. Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour. Non-exempt employees must also receive overtime pay at one and a half times their usual rate.  If you are a Coloradoan, then you will likely be pleased to know that Colorado has opted to raise the minimum wage to $10.20 as of January 2018.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). According to this law, certain employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year for medical reasons. Qualifying medical reasons include the serious illness either of the employee or a close relative of the employee. Pregnancy, childbirth and adoption also qualify. According to Colorado’s Family Care Act,  employees who are eligible for FMLA leave are also entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a domestic partner, or a partner in a civil union, with a serious health condition.  Furthermore, if an individual is in the military, they are afforded more time for their leave.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). This law regulates safety and health conditions in most industries. Typically, employers must ensure that workplaces are safe from hazards which may cause injuries or illness.  Colorado is not a “state-plan” state, so there are no have additional regulations.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The regulations in this law apply to employers which offer pension, welfare or other benefit programs. These employers must take steps to protect employees’ retirement accounts and follow reporting procedures.  There are no additions to this, but the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) is worth noting as it helps serve as a substitute for Social Security for most public employees.
  • Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). This law provides certain workers compensation benefits to government employees in the event of a work injury.
  • Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA provides workers compensation benefits to certain maritime workers, such as harbor workers and shipbuilders. This law protects workers who are generally exempt from traditional workers comp, but also do not qualify for protection under maritime laws.  The Colorado Department of Labor says, “Since the laws change through the years, there may be different benefits depending on when you were injured.”  Whatever the case, make sure that you get all necessary paperwork filed correctly in the right number of days.

Employment laws are complex and each situation is unique.  In fact, There are more than 100 additional federal employment laws that apply to specific industries and employees. Therefore, if you have questions or concerns about your workplace rights, then feel free to ask the lawyers. Additionally, if you need assistance with an employment case, then consult our local listings. You may be able to schedule a free initial consultation today.

Colorado Laws

  • Minimum wage is $10.20
  • Family and Medical Leave is extended to for a domestic partner, or a partner in a civil union, with a serious health condition.  Furthermore, if an individual is in the military, they are afforded more time for their leave.
  • Employees are given the right to take time off to seek treatment or assistance for domestic violence; to care for a newly adopted child; and to attend certain meetings/ conferences at a child’s school.
  • Protection against Discrimination are extended to LGBTQUIA and transgender
  • Discrimination is not tolerated at any workplace, despite the number of employees
  • Employer may prohibit guns from the entire premises, and must tell employees about potential searches and consequences
  • Employee contract may be implied rather than just written or orally agreed upon
  • unlimited unpaid leave while serving Colorado National Guard
  • Employees are entitled to be paid their wages (up to $50/day) for 3 days if they are called to jury duty (Federal FLSA does not require that employees be paid for jury duty).
  • Employees may take up to 2 hrs of paid leave to vote, unless they already have 3 hrs off work to vote when the polls are open. (Federal law does not require employers allow employees time to vote).

What about Discrimination and Harassment?

First of all, it is important to know that if you must make a complaint to HR, participate in an investigation of a discrimination complaint (no matter who made the complaint), testify in court, or make other efforts to stop discrimination, you should be protected by federal law.  However, every situation is unique, so if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask the lawyers, just to be sure.  

Since 1964, Federal law has sworn to protect you from discrimination in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating in any process, including hiring, promotion and firing, based on certain characteristics.

  • Race. If your employer treats you unfairly and you have reason to believe that it is based on your race, it could be worthwhile to file a racial discrimination claim.
  • Sex. This includes discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy. For example, potential employers may not ask if you are pregnant during the hiring process.  This can include any gender identification.
  • Religion. Employers must respectfully accommodate your religion, and should not treat you differently based on your beliefs.  
  • Disability. Depending on the circumstances, many employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate disabled employees. This may include purchasing accessibility equipment or making other non-disruptive changes.  This also includes mental disabilities and learning disabilities.
  • Age. The Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) bars workplace discrimination against workers over the age of 40. In most cases, this means that qualifying businesses cannot discriminate during the hiring process, promotions, or fire an employee based on his or her age.
  • Color. Your employer may not may employment decisions or treat you differently based on your skin color.
  • National Origin. This includes discrimination protection based on your heritage, home country, accent or customs.
  • Genetics. Your employer may not ask you for a DNA sample or tests (except in very limited circumstances) or use your genetic information to make workplace decisions.
  • Citizenship Status. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) prohibits employment discrimination based on whether you are a US citizen.

With this information it is important to also note that some federal laws (including laws regarding discrimination) only apply to employers with a certain number of employees.  With that said, Colorado does not allow discrimination for any employer, even if they only have one employee.  

Colorado takes protection against discrimination a step further by explicitly extending support to:

  • the  LGBTQIA community,
  • transgender individuals.

Questions About Your Workplace Rights? Find a Lawyer Today

If you have concerns about how state and federal employment laws apply to your situation, then our Colorado attorneys may be able to help. You can ask the lawyers by submitting a question to our site. Otherwise, to find an employment lawyer near you, consult our local listings.