Overview of Our Employment Law
Our employment law attorneys include a former Senior Trial Attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the federal agency responsible for investigating claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation) and in-house employment law counsel to Fortune 500 companies, who have advised on and litigated hundreds of employment law related issues. Our commitment to protecting your rights translates into focused, personal attention for each of our clients. Whether you are a senior executive, mid-level manager, or perform clerical or blue-collar work, we will represent you with the same level of commitment and perseverance to help you achieve a positive outcome.
Our attorneys have significant experience in the successful litigation of individual, class action, and multi-plaintiff employment related dispute; this includes claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, wage-and-hour and related lawsuits. Because of our experience working in-house in large companies we know where to locate the information that will best position your case for a positive result.
Because of our trial experience we can take an employment law case all the way to a jury verdict when necessary. We also have the tact and experience required to help you achieve a successful and confidential pre-litigation resolution to your case.
Our highly skilled and experienced lawyers represent individuals and businesses regarding a wide range of employment law matters, including:
- Confidentiality agreements
- Employment discrimination claims
- Executive compensation and benefits
- Internal corporate investigations involving fraud, embezzlement, ethics, policy violations, or discrimination
- Non-compete agreements and non-solicitation agreements
- Overtime and Wage issues
- Separation agreements and severance packages
- Title IX claims
- Whistleblower and retaliation claims
- Wrongful discharge claims
Our range of practice also includes individuals treated adversely in the workplace because of age, disability, gender, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion or sexual orientation. We also handle retaliation claims where someone reports a concern about such treatment and then faces retaliation. We can also help to ensure that your employer is paying you what you are owed under Colorado and federal law, including overtime wages.
We also provide effective employment law counseling for companies, including conducting internal investigations and advising clients on workplace policies and practices, employee handbooks, employment contracts, severance agreements, executive compensation, and other employment-related agreements. Below is additional information about some of the areas of employment law in which we can assist you.
The term “employment discrimination” refers to a wide range of conduct, including:
- Taking an “adverse employment action” (e.g., demotion, termination, or failure to hire or promote) because of a protected characteristic (e.g., age, disability; ethnicity, gender, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion)
- Creating or allowing a hostile work environment
- Retaliating against an employee for opposing unlawful employment practices or participating in proceedings relating to unlawful discriminatory practices
We provide employment discrimination representation in the following areas:
- Age discrimination
- Disability discrimination
- Family Medical Leave Act
- Gender/sex discrimination
- Hostile work environment claims
- National origin discrimination
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Race discrimination
- Religious discrimination
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual orientation discrimination
Hostile Work Environment
The term “hostile work environment” generally refers to harassment or discrimination by a supervisor, manager, coworker, and other agents of the company, including customers and vendors. In most situations, the harassment is based on gender, sexual orientation, race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, disability, medical condition, physical appearance, marital status or pregnancy.
Conduct that creates a hostile work environment, if it is severe and pervasive enough to interfere with an employee’s work, includes insults, jokes, unwelcome flirting, comments about a person’s body, requests for dates, pornography, unwelcome physical contact, or sexually explicit language or behavior.
Employees are protected by law against an unlawful hostile work environment. However, it is up to you to assert your right and take action, including contacting an attorney who can help protect your rights in the workplace.
There are various federal, state and local laws that protect individuals against retaliation; retaliation is taking an adverse action against an employee for engaging in “protected activity” as defined by law. An example of this is that Title VII states, in part, that it is “unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees or applicants for employment …, because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter.”
Protected activity can include:
- Making complaints to management
- Protesting against discrimination by industry or society in general
- Supporting a co-working who has filed formal charges of discrimination.
If a person alleges retaliation, they do not have to prove that discrimination actually occurred; they need to only show that they had a reasonable good-faith belief that the actions complained of violate discrimination law. The law prohibits retaliation with respect to a wide range of job activities such as:
- Fringe benefits
- Job assignments
- Any other term or condition of employment.
Unwelcome sexual advances, comments, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature violates the law and is prohibited sexual harassment if:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of your employment
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is a reason or basis for employment decisions affecting you
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with your work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of situations, so long as the harasser’s conduct is unwelcome by you. Also, you are protected by law against sexual harassment in the workplace whether:
- You are a woman or a man
- The harasser is of the same or opposite sex
- The harasser is your supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee
- You are the target of the harassment or a bystander affected by the offensive conduct
If an employer offers you a severance agreement, it is critical that you understand what is being offered. More importantly, you must understand what you are giving up when signing a severance agreement in exchange for payment.
Severance agreements typically include a “release” provision, which as the name suggests, excuses the employer from liability for legal claims, such as those under the anti-discrimination laws. The agreement may also contain other provisions and restrictions, such as those regarding your future employment (e.g., non-competition and/or non-solicitation clauses), confidentiality, and non-disparagement. We can help you understand the terms of a severance agreement and help you negotiate a more favorable severance package.
Various state and federal laws require employers to pay their workers a minimum wage and overtime. Typical violations can include any of the following:
- Failure to pay overtime
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Failure to properly compensate “tipped” employees
- Failure to pay wages
- Failure to pay bonuses and commissions
- Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor
Unlawful wage deductions
A violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act or similar state law may entitle the affected employee to recover back pay, costs, attorney’s fees, injunctive relief, and other financial compensation. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who has exercised his or her rights under the wage and hour laws.
Our Employment Law Attorneys
- Frank Lopez, Practice Leader
- Rebecca A. Mastel
- Jay Hermele
- Andrew J. Felser
Employment law claims often have a very short window of time for you to pursue your claim. If you believe that you have suffered workplace discrimination, harassment or retaliation, protect your rights and contact us immediately to evaluate your case.