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Denver Employment Law Blog

Is your noncompete agreement enforceable?

You signed a noncompete agreement when you started working for your current employer a few years ago. Now, you would like to switch roles, but do not see an appropriate next step within the organization. You’ve decided that you would like to work for another firm, but can you?

Noncompete agreements are not always enforceable. Learn more about these agreements and when they may be challenged.

Colorado law protects whistleblowers

Like other states, Colorado law affords protections to worker who witness illegal conduct in their workplaces and choose to do the right thing and report the behavior to the appropriate authorities.

These so-called whistleblower laws prevent an employer from firing or taking other adverse action against an employee simply because the employee would not tolerate illegal conduct in the workplace.

Committee addresses sexual harassment culture at Colorado capitol

In recent months, Colorado has been rocked by reports of prevalent sexual harassment in the halls of the state capitol. It is clear that this is not something that just suddenly happened. Instead, it is part of a culture that has long-plagued the halls of government here.

Not only have the actions at the highest levels of state government resulted in sexual harassment allegations against several Colorado lawmakers, the ongoing investigation and response to the claims have resulted in an almost-$300,000 hit to the state's taxpayers. Thus far, the expenses have been largely limited to investigative costs, training with respect to sexual harassment and attorneys' fees. However, a new initiative is liable to push those expenses much higher

Understanding executive compensation packages

Getting to the executive level at your company is a great accomplishment. You have worked hard to get to where you are and there are benefits to your dedication. One of these is probably an increase in income and a new type of pay package.

If you are in an executive position, you may not realize what the differences in compensation are compared to hourly or salaried workers. It may surprise you that there are significant changes to the pay structure at the executive level and there are different components to your pay package.

Sexual harassment claims roil Colorado capitol

In past weeks, the prevalence of sexual harassment claims in the halls of Colorado's institutions for higher learning and state government have been brought into the spotlight. Not only have the scandals resulted in increased scrutiny and potential repercussions for the individuals and institutions involved, but they have also cost Colorado taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and are poised to put an even bigger hit on the state's coffers.

For example, the sexual harassment claims against several Colorado lawmakers have reportedly cost the state's taxpayers $275,000 in the form of attorneys' fees, investigations, sexual harassment training and reducing the incidence of such harassment. Because some of the expenditures are recurring, the price tag will continue to grow. Moreover, the state could take a bigger hit should it be required to pay out claims related to any of the allegations.

Does my employer have to give me maternity leave?

Pregnancy can be an exciting but scary time for you as it is a time of change. A change that may worry you as an expecting mom is how you will balance a career with a family. You may be curious about your rights regarding paid or unpaid maternity leave. The unfortunate reality is that some employers may not understand the rules of medical leave, which may lead an employee to worry about the status of their job. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the law women may rely on as it will protect your job for up to 12 weeks after giving birth or adopting a child. Though the law does not require your employer to pay you for your time off, it requires that your job be waiting for you when you return.

Your workplace size, length of employment and hours worked may impact your eligibility for maternity leave. The FMLA protects you if you have been with your employer for 12 months among 50 or more employees who live within 75 miles of the location. Your leave may be circumstantial as some states fund paid maternity leave while others don't.

Recognizing retaliation behavior in the workplace

Many workplaces today have a happy work environment with a good work-life balance. Coworkers get along and there is a positive environment happening in the work place. However, not all companies have been able to achieve this positive work environment. Sometimes discrimination or retaliatory behavior is present in the workplace. So how do you recognize such behaviors?

Usually for a behavior in the workplace to be considered at retaliatory, something happens that proceeds the actual incident. Whether it be due to some discriminated act, an instance of sexual harassment between boss and employee or between coworkers or some other instance in the workplace. These events could be the precursor to retaliatory behavior. Retaliatory behavior could manifest in being demoted, being passed over for a promotion or even being fired.

Protected classes and harassment claims

You already know you were harassed because you felt harassed by what happened. But there’s more to a harassment claim than the event where you felt harassed. To have a harassment claim, you have to be part of a protected class and the harassment has to be because of your status in that protected class.

But knowing what the protected classes are and who fits into them can be difficult. Especially when you’re still processing what happened and you’re trying to figure out what to do next.

University of Denver to pay $2.7M in unequal-pay lawsuit

In a big settlement for the gender-pay gap, the University of Denver will pay $2.7 million after an unequal-pay lawsuit was brought by female professors. This is a huge victory for those fighting for equal pay and shows that change for women is coming. The employment law case was originally brought by one female professor in 2013. However, the case built momentum when she joined forces with other female professors who believed they were also underpaid.

At the time, the female professor was paid $40,000 less than the university average for the same position. She had been teaching for several decades and had never asked for a raise, making $109,000 per year. Meanwhile, the median salary for professors was $149,000. In 2012, DU announced it would use earmarked money for faculty raises, and the female professor raised concerns about gender parity and asked that the additional money be used to remedy inequities. Raises were given, but they widened the pay gap, leaving female full-time professors earning a mean salary $15,859 less than male professors.

Race discrimination in the workplace: what to look for

Thinking back to how far equality has come for all types of different people, it's almost hard to imagine that discrimination still happens in the workplace. However, with so many different people working in a work environment, some people can't handle it. Discrimination in the workplace is not a legitimate or allowable behavior. If you feel you have experienced discrimination, here's what to look out for.

There could be several ways that a person's race could be held against them. Beyond outright admission by an employer, discrimination could be detected based on an employer's previous hiring or firing decisions. If minorities are continually interviewed and not selected, or if minorities are always passed over for a job promotion, these patterns could indicate discrimination. Also, it's possible that discrimination could be happening with the employer being unawares.

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