Top 5 Reasons Why Colorado Employees File Claims

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In today’s corporate landscape, legal disputes between employees and employers are unfortunately not uncommon. Despite the efforts made by many companies to maintain fair and ethical workplaces, disputes can still arise, leading to litigation. Understanding the primary reasons behind these conflicts is essential for a healthy work environment to thrive and to avoid legal entanglements. Let’s delve into the top five reasons why employees may choose to file lawsuits against their employers:

1. Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has eight protected characteristics when it comes to discrimination in employment. Colorado has nearly double the number of protected classes. It is important for employers to understand these classes and ensure that all employees abide by these protections.

These protected classes are:

Category Description
Race Includes hair texture, type, or a protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race as stated in the CROWN Act of 2020
Age 40+
Disability A mental or physical impairment which substantially limits a major life activity
Sexual Orientation Including Transgender Status
Sharing and comparing wage information with coworkers Wage Transparency Act
Marital Status
Gender Identity
Marriage to a co-worker Applies in limited circumstances
National Origin
Gender Expression
Pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions

2. Harassment

Colorado enacted the Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights (POWR) Act in 2023. Not only does POWR add marital status as a protected class to the list above, but it also redefined the definitions of ‘harass’ and ‘harassment’. The old definition required that the harassment be severe and pervasive and cause a hostile work environment. Now, harassment is any “unwelcome conduct directed at an individual or group of individuals in, or perceived to be in, a protected class, which conduct is subjectively offensive to the individual alleging harassment and objectively offensive to members of the same protected class as the individual alleging harassment, and which conduct need not be severe or pervasive to constitute a discriminatory or unfair employment practice.” As you can see, discrimination and harassment overlap greatly. POWR also encourages employers to create an anti-harassment policy and to inform their employees on how to report harassment. Records of complaints of discriminatory or unfair employment practices must be maintained for at least five years. For information about the POWR Act, please visit

3. Wage and Hour Claims

Wage and hour disputes are common reasons for employees to file claims against their employers. These may involve allegations of unpaid wages, including overtime, minimum wage violations, or improper classification of employees as exempt from overtime pay. Complexities in labor laws and regulations can lead to unintentional violations by employers. However, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. Employers must comply with wage and hour laws and maintain accurate records of hours worked and wages paid.

In Colorado, employers must pay out any accrued, unused vacation hours upon termination if applicable. Colorado employers must also pay employees their final paycheck within 6 hours of the start of the next workday or if your payroll department is located off-site then within 24 hours of terminating the employee, if the employee resigned, they must be paid their final check with the next regularly scheduled payroll.

4. Wrongful Termination

Colorado is an “at-will employment” state, meaning that employees and employers may end employment anytime for little to no reason. At-will employment does have certain exceptions that employers need to be aware of when terminating an employee to ensure that the reason for termination is lawful. No employee may be terminated for any reason relating to their protected class, which is discussed in the Discrimination section above. It is highly recommended that employers keep documentation regarding why the employee was terminated. Knowing the particulars of laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PFWA), and Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) will give you a good start on knowing areas where you cannot terminate employees. Employers cannot retaliate against employees who submit claims against the employer or another employee, whether the claim is founded or not.

5. Disabilities and Workplace Injuries

As stated above, disability is a protected class for both the state of Colorado and the EEOC. It is unlawful for an employee to be terminated, not hired, promoted, etc., due to their disability.

If an employee is injured at work, it must be reported to the designated workers’ compensation carrier and, thus, to the state and OSHA, if applicable. Not accommodating restrictions or accepting medical accommodations that do not present an undue hardship on the company is unlawful.

Employers can face lawsuits for a combination of the previously mentioned reasons. For example, if an employee is wrongfully terminated because of their disability, the claimant could file both a discrimination claims and a wrongful termination claim. In addition to combining lawsuits, employers could face additional audits from federal or state agencies which can lead to additional penalties and costly fines.

The StaffScapes team understands the time it takes to grasp these lengthy laws and maintain legal changes; with StaffScapes, you will have a team of experts available to answer questions and provide useful documents and sound advice. Contact StaffScapes to see how we can help free up your time so you can focus on growing your business.