The Litigation Boutique LLC

Denver Colorado Employment Law Blog

Can an employee be terminated while on FMLA leave?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), enacted in 1993, allows eligible employees to take job-protected, unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons.

While an employee’s job is protected under the FMLA, it does not mean the employee is ineligible for termination. Employers must tread carefully to avoid a follow up FMLA interference and retaliation lawsuit, but subpar employees are not untouchable when on leave.

Overtime pay at center of Sprint wage and hour law suit

Colorado residents might be familiar with the phrase "time worked is time paid," but not everyone understands the sometimes complex nature of compensation. Sprint Corp. -- a popular phone service -- may have used that to its advantage. Earlier in 2017, Sprint settled a wage and hour law dispute with over 150 of its employees, and it is now dealing with a second lawsuit.

The 153 employees involved in the settlement originally filed suit in Feb. 2016, claiming that Sprint required them to purposely report fewer hours than they had actually worked. Sprint settled for $365,000. However, rather than ending the matter for Sprint, news of the settlement quickly reached other current and former employees who had been similarly denied overtime payment.

Whistleblowers face wrongful termination despite federal laws

Whistleblowers face incredible risks when raising the alarm about unlawful behavior. Many deal with unjustly negative performance reviews, unwanted transfers, demotions and even wrongful termination. When Colorado whistleblowers are fired for reporting workplace violations, they may take legal action against their former employers.

Many state and federal laws exist to protect whistleblowers from retaliatory employers. One such law forbids employers from firing workers who report health and safety violations, or who file claims about financial misappropriations. There are several other specific laws and regulations that give specific protections to both private and public employees. Unfortunately, some employers still believe that they can retaliate against their workers without consequences.

Wage and hour law dispute prompts Labor Department lawsuit

Employees who work more than 40 hours in a single week are usually owed overtime pay for their extra hours. However, wage and hour law in Colorado can be confusing, and some employers take advantage of that to deny workers their rightful pay, or to retaliate against them. An out-of-state woman is currently involved in a lawsuit against her former employer after she was fired for requesting overtime pay.

The nurse assistant worked for a medical staffing company that, in Jan. 2016, implemented a new policy -- it would no longer pay overtime. Instead, workers would be paid their regular hourly wage even when they were on the clock for more than 40 hours per week. The same month that the policy was implemented, the nurse in question worked 48 hours one week, and was denied overtime pay.

Should employment contracts be signed right away?

Severance agreements often seem like a best-case scenario for everyone involved. Colorado employers can downsize their workforce as necessary, and employees can receive pay and benefits that will help them as they search for a new job. However, poorly worded or confusing employment contracts can create headaches for both sides.

If you are presented with a severance agreement, you might feel pressured to sign it as quickly as possible lest the offer be rescinded. This is incredibly unlikely to happen, and signing right away could put you in a difficult position, as waivers and clauses that affect your ability to collect pay and benefits can easily hide in complicated documents. Before signing anything, you should consider having an experienced employment law counsel carefully review the agreement.

Wells Fargo accused of wrongful termination amid scandals

Several Wells Fargo employees claim that they were retaliated against after whistleblowing on the giant bank. Employees were largely responsible for uncovering illicit activity that affected customers in Colorado and the rest of the United States. Many of the affected employees claim that they were the victims of wrongful termination.

A former mortgage consultant at Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit in July, alleging that he was fired after raising concern about mortgage rate practices. The bank apparently charged homebuyers for locking in mortgage rates, a practice that was unnecessary and costly to consumers. Wells Fargo denied that the mortgage consultant was fired as retaliation.

Tesla's workplace discrimination allegations are not so clean

Tesla is largely known for its electric vehicles, but it recently made Colorado headlines for something much less clean. The car manufacturer is facing several workplace discrimination lawsuits amid allegations of racial and gender bias. Some workers even claim that they endured retaliation after complaining about ongoing harassment and discrimination at the same out-of-state factory.

These more recent claims follow a 2016 gender discrimination lawsuit. A former engineer at the factory originally filed suit while she was still employed, alleging that her male counterparts were promoted over and paid more than equally-qualified female engineers. She also claimed that she was subjected to harassment from men in the factory, and a short while later was fired and is currently in arbitration with Tesla.

Understanding your separation agreement

There are many reasons for a separation agreement (sometimes called a severance agreement). Separation agreements are a contract that is drafted when a company gets rid of a position – whether through reorganization, downsizing or other reasons. For those on the receiving end, it’s a stressful and often painful discussion that ends with a packet of material to read and sign.

In the big picture, the agreement defines how the upcoming separation will happen, including through a period of transition. It includes schedules and dates, terms for severance pay, confidentiality and non-compete clauses. The goal is to protect the company from future harm and to establish a clean break for the employee.

Whole Foods fired woman who needed treatment for her kidneys

A woman who has polycystic kidney disease has filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods with help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit alleges that the woman, whose condition leads to cysts growing on her kidneys and can ultimately lead to kidney failure, was fired for her disability and that Whole Foods did nothing to accommodate the woman despite her disability.

The woman was a cashier at Whole Foods, and she worked there for ten years, starting in 2005. In 2009, she had a kidney transplant to help with her condition. In 2015, she missed work on two separate days because of her kidney condition, but she informed Whole Foods of her need to miss work beforehand.

Wrongful termination after bringing a problem to light

Stepping forward and saying something when there is a problem is not an easy thing to do, especially in the workplace. There is always fear of retaliation. While whistleblower laws do exist, there are those who have been fired from their jobs for exposing problems. Those in Colorado who have experienced this kind of thing may be entitled to seek compensation for any losses sustained by filing wrongful termination claims in civil court.

Fairly recently, in another state, the former operations manager for a school district filed various claims against this district after he was let go from his job. He claims that the Chief Operating Officer of the district was stealing funds, falsifying time cards and accepting improper payment from vendors -- among other things. After filing this complaint, an investigation was conducted, and nothing came of it. The plaintiff was then fired soon after.

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