March 29th, 2022

The 5 Most Common Employment Lawsuits In Colorado

Being an employer, no matter how big or small your company, requires ongoing diligence to avoid common employment lawsuits. Colorado is one of the most stringent states when it comes to employment law. But no matter your location, juries can be unpredictable and tend to side with workers over employers. So understanding where common lawsuits originate can help you take the steps necessary to avoid risk and prevent issues from getting to this point.

In Colorado, labor law is enforced by the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics through the Office of Labor Standards. This office interprets, investigates, issues guidance on, and enforces employment laws. It’s the Office of Labor Standards that looks into complaints filed on existing and new colorado labor laws.  Here are some of the most common employment lawsuits this office may investigate.  

1. Discrimination Lawsuits

In Colorado, harassment and discrimination lawsuits are the most common employee complaint. In 2020, 68% of all claims in Colorado were retaliation claims arising from discrimination. 

Discrimination lawsuits happen when an employee feels their employer or even coworkers have discriminated against them based on their age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disabilities—including pregnancy.

A common type of discrimination lawsuit is due to wrongful termination. Wrongful termination claims are also usually because of discrimination. In Colorado, the employer-employee relationship is an “at-will” agreement. This means an employer can fire or demote an employee for any reason; However, claims usually arise if an employee feels the reason was discriminatory. 

It’s important an organization behaves in a way that is not discriminatory. But new laws, like the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, may result in more discrimination claims around pay in Colorado. 

2. Harassment Lawsuits

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment claims received by the EEOC increased in 2018 and 2019 after a steady decrease over the previous 8 years. 

Without a sexual harassment training requirement in place, Colorado employers are at an increased risk of sexual harassment lawsuits. 

Through 2020 harassment claims decreased—likely due to workers being at home. But just because more employees are working remotely, doesn’t mean sexual harassment can’t take place. With a return to offices and a new way of work, we could see another increase in claims. It’s more likely that businesses will see the same type of lawsuits, but approached and upheld in a different way because of remote work. 

3. Family & Medical Leave Act Claims

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can get complicated. But in general, FMLA can create lawsuits if an employer refuses leave. In other words, an employee can seek legal help if they feel their employer has interfered with, restrained, or denied their right to exercise their ability to take leave. 

Claims arise if an employer has demoted, terminated, reduced pay, or discriminated against an employee based on their request for leave. On top of FMLA, the Public Health Emergency Law and Healthy Families and Workplaces Act have created similar lawsuits around leave for employers in Colorado. 

4. Wage and Hour Claims

Wage and hour claims are another common lawsuit employers might face, but one of the easiest to rectify. Wage and hour lawsuits occur when an employer refuses to correct payment mistakes or an employee is due pay for overtime or breaks. 

Wage and hour claims are more likely to occur when you have a misclassification of workers or an inaccurate timekeeping and payroll method. In Colorado, we may see an increase in wage and hour claims as a result of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and Colorado Wage Claim Act. It’s important that as soon as an issue occurs, an employer rectifies the situation—lawsuits could result in fees and backpay exceeding the original amount. 

5. Workplace Injury Claims

There are a variety of hazards that can put a worker at risk in the workplace. Not every small business will have to contend with ongoing workplace injury claims unless they’re a business in the blue-collar industry. But chances are good every organization will face a workplace injury at some point—but it shouldn’t be cause for concern. 

In Colorado, workers’ compensation insurance is required the second you hire an employee. So most personal injury lawsuits are against an employer when they don’t have insurance and a worker felt they were injured because of an employer’s intentional conduct. 

It’s more important that companies are following any OSHA or workplace safety standards to avoid injuries and workplace injury lawsuits—keeping a special eye out for the most common workplace injuries

How Obsidian HR Can Help 

If your business is currently facing litigation from an employee, be sure to work with an experienced employment law attorney. Obsidian HR cannot provide legal advice, but we can help you get compliant, avoid risk, and protect your business. Our experts can: 

  • Answer questions
  • Advise on best practices
  • Keep you alert to regulatory changes
  • Help you strategize and plan
  • Conduct regular reviews and audits of your policies and procedures—or help you create them from the ground up

To learn more and get compliant with Colorado employment laws, download the guide below. It covers the most recent employment laws and regulations you need to know. 

Download Our Guide: 2022 Colorado Employment Laws & Regulations

Last year, many new Colorado laws and regulations were signed into effect—this year employers can expect more. Learn what they are and how to be compliant.

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