Wrongful Termination – Improper Discharge – Firing Without Cause
Losing one’s job can be incredibly traumatic. Terminations of employment happen every day, and usually for good reasons: cost-saving measures, poor work performance, or changes in the focus of a business can result in the need to terminate an employee’s connection to a business.
People often refer to Colorado as an “at-will employment” state. Too often, that reference becomes a justification for terminating an employee’s job for bad reasons. Here’s the problem: too many employers simply fail to understand the limitations of “at-will employment”.
Generally speaking, at-will employment means that the default in Colorado is that there is no employment contract. Employers may fire employees with or without cause if employment is at-will. However, just because the default is at-will employment does not mean that all employment relationships in Colorado are at-will. Employment contracts are often formed between employers and employees, whether intentionally or not. Sometimes, even a poorly-drafted personnel handbook can form the basis to claim that an employment contract exists, and that the employment is no longer at-will. If you have been fired, don’t make the determination that you were an at-will employee just because you heard that from somebody — you should seek real legal advice on this matter, and that means talking to Dan Slater.
Furthermore, even if you turn out to be an at-will employee, that doesn’t mean an employer can run roughshod over your rights. There are a wide range of exceptions to the at-will doctrine that could apply to your case. Employers’ lawyers are given this advice about the at-will doctrine:
Defense attorneys should not cause or allow their clients to believe in the vitality of the employment at-will doctrine. The doctrine is so riddled with exceptions that it will rarely be the case that the termination of a particular employee does not fall within one of the exceptions. In short, if an employer terminates an employee, prudence dictates that the employer have a good reason for the termination, which should be documented.
Gallagher, et al., The Practitioner’s Guide to Colorado Employment Law at 1-2.
Of course, there are plenty of situations where a termination may be unfair, but not necessarily actionable. In other words, “fairness” has little to do with employment law. If you’ve had your employment terminated and want to discuss your legal rights, you should call Dan Slater’s office at 719-269-3315 and set an appointment today.