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Denver Employment Law Blog

Is your employment contract enforceable if you break it?

Working in the modern world typically means signing a lengthy, detailed contract, one which is often skewed in the favor of the employer. In many cases, employees sign on to contracts they do not fully understand because they assume the fine print is standard, or simply because they need the job.

However, when the business relationship runs its course, many employees find that their contracts are surprisingly one-sided and unwieldy. For some, these contracts may be outright unfair. They may contain terms that significantly harm or disadvantage the employee without a strong justification.

Subtler forms of retaliation

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, it is illegal for a Denver employer to retaliate against an employee who duly reports a law violation or who participates in a valid official or even intra-office investigation.

Anti-retaliation provisions specifically prohibit employers from punishing employees for filing discrimination claims with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

Colorado state legislators accused of sexual harassment

A couple of lawmakers in the Colorado state legislature have announced their departure from the body in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. One lawmaker denies that his decision has anything to do with the allegation against him, saying his decision not to run for re-election in 2020 is for financial reasons. The lawmaker has a background in business and is pursuing other opportunities.

In the case of this lawmaker, an intern accused him of sexual harassment about a year ago. The woman accused the legislator of leering at him and also making improper comments about her clothing. Although the woman's allegations were substantiated in the face of the man's denial, the leadership of the Colorado Senate ultimately decided that, even if true, the facts did not give rise to a sexual harassment claim.

How to spot retaliation tactics in the workplace

Employees at all levels can suffer from retaliation in the workplace, and this retaliation can be administered for many different reasons. Retaliation is never acceptable, and legal action can be taken if the behavior can be recognized as a legitimate form of retaliation.

While some forms of retaliation are obvious, many employers can be strategic in the way that they retaliate against an employee. This is because it can be easy to take action against an employer who fires a whistleblower or a woman who has just announced her pregnancy, for example.

Here's what you should know about a sexual harassment case

Sexual harassment has no place in the workplace, yet it still occurs in many places of business. It is against the law to harass an applicant or employee due to the person's sex or gender, among other protected categories. Sexual harassment includes verbal and physical harassment, requests for sexual favors and unwelcome sexual advances.

Harassment doesn't necessarily have to be sexual in nature, but includes offensive remarks about the person's gender or sex. For instance, it's sexually harassing to make offensive or negative comments about women in the workplace.

Fighting a non-compete agreement in Colorado

Many employees in the Denver area will inevitably get to know a lot about their employer's business in connection with their jobs. This is particularly true when an employee has a job that involves the handling of sensitive information, is in a position of leadership or, in some cases, is just someone who has been with the same employer for a long time.

Employers attempt in many ways to protect the business advantages they enjoy because of their closely-held trade secrets. They also work hard to protect the time and energy they invest in training an employee, as they don't want to develop an employee only to have a competitor enjoy the benefits.

Survey: 1 in 4 men admit to harassing behavior

In a relatively recent survey of 615 men, one in four admitted to engaging in at least one form of workplace behavior that might be viewed as evidence of sexual harassment or some other form of gender discrimination.

The types of sexual harassment these men were asked about varied from touching or even tying a work-related favor to sex to making inappropriate gestures or asking for a date after having been refused once.

Woman wins Colorado retaliation suit

A Colorado woman and former mortgage consultant won a lawsuit against her former employer and was awarded over $35,000 as a result. Three of the woman's former colleagues were not so fortunate, as the jury hearing the case found in favor of the employer with respect to those three people.

The lawsuit alleged, and the jury agree, that the woman's mortgage company, American Financial Corporation, fired her after she complained about systemic problems which included the use of misleading or false information on mortgage loan applications. American Financial makes its home in the greater Denver area.

Women can be sexual harassers, too

Especially in the era of #metoo, the image of sexual harassers is typically that of an older male boss taking advantage of a subordinate, abusing his power for sexual rewards. But men are not the only ones who engage in sexual harassment. The University of Colorado at Boulder recently put on leave and banned from campus a female professor who is accused of pressuring students to participate in sexually inappropriate conduct and communications.

Not the only one

What if they say I broke a workplace rule?

Most employers in Denver, Colorado, have at least a small set of workplace rules and expectations that they rightfully expect employees to follow. These rules should be objective and serve the purpose of protecting and promoting the business and its employees.

When an employee breaks a legitimate workplace rule, he or she can and should expect an employer to discipline accordingly and, in serious cases, even fire the employee. As this blog has mentioned, this is true even if the employee had at some point reported discrimination or other unlawful conduct to the authorities, something that employees have every right to do with impunity.

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