Many victims of discrimination who are brave enough to take action, whether that action is complaining informally to their employer or filing a formal complaint or lawsuit, also become victims of retaliation. In fact, retaliation was the most common charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2013. Retaliation can include:
- Wrongful termination, such as firing or laying off an employee;
- Demoting an employee;
- Reducing an employee’s pay; and
- Harassing or otherwise discriminating against an employee.
If you have been fired or laid off from your job because you complained about discrimination, a wrongful termination lawyer may be able to help you get job reinstatement, back pay, punitive damages, and/or attorney’s fees.
Laws That Prohibit Wrongful Termination
Employees who have complained about discrimination because of their race, color, gender, religion, or national origin are protected from wrongful termination by federal and state laws. These laws make it illegal to fire someone just because they filed a charge of discrimination, complained about discrimination to their employer, or participated in a proceeding such as a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits all forms of retaliation, including wrongful termination. (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) This law applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, the federal government, and state governments.
At the state level, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (Co. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402) also prohibits all forms of retaliation, including wrongful termination. This law is to Title VII in terms of the protections it offers, but applies to private employers in Colorado regardless of their number of employees.
Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
Another protection against wrongful termination is the right to bring a wrongful termination lawsuit in Colorado. In many instances, a person who wants to bring a wrongful termination lawsuit must receive a “right to sue” letter, either from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Civil Rights Division
In Colorado, a wrongful termination lawsuit has three elements:
- The employee who files the lawsuit, called the Plaintiff, must have been employed by the employer, called the Defendant;
- The Defendant discharged (i.e. fired) the Plaintiff; and
- The Plaintiff was discharged for exercising a job-related right or privilege to which he or she was entitled. Herrera v. San Luis central Railroad Co., 997 P.2d 1238 (Colo. App. 1999).
It is illegal in Colorado to discriminate against an employee because of their race, color, gender, religion, or national origin. Because of this, complaining about discrimination in the workplace is a job-related right in Colorado. However, it is not illegal for an employer to fire an employee for other reasons, such as a negative performance evaluation or work that is of poor quality.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Termination Attorney
If you have lost your job because you complained about discrimination in your workplace, you should contact experienced wrongful termination lawyer as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you may lose the right to file a claim of retaliation or a wrongful termination lawsuit. At HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, we have experience helping employees who have been wrongfully terminated bring complaints and file lawsuits.
If you are a victim of wrongful termination, do not wait – contact HKM Employment Attorneys LLP online or call us at 303-991-3075 for a private consultation.