Frequently Asked Questions – Employment Law


As a business owner, do I need to worry about discrimination laws?

All businesses are required to follow anti-discrimination laws as they apply to both employees and customers. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodation on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin. Places of “public accommodation” can include hotels, restaurants, theaters, banks, health clubs and stores. The only exemptions to the law tend to go to nonprofit organizations such as churches.In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prevent discrimination on the basis of disability, pregnancy and anyone 40 years old or older. The state can intervene when small employers are accused of discriminatory practices, and employees can file a lawsuit of their own against your business.


What should I include in my employee handbook?

An employee handbook serves to ensure that all workers are aware of the company’s rules and expectations. The handbook is designed to protect them and the company. This document should outline a business’s general policies and expectations for their employees, while also listing what workers can expect from the employer. The handbook should also outline the legal obligations the employer has. Examples of what to put in the handbook can include the company’s code of conduct, safety and security issues, pay policies, benefits, the assessment process for promotions and raises, and the process for filing a complaint.


What qualifies as sexual harassment at work?

Sexual harassment at work represents unlawful and prohibited sex discrimination. The law defines sexual harassment as unwelcome verbal, visual, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that impacts working conditions or creates a hostile work environment. In order to be illegal, sexual harassment must be unwelcome or unwanted. Examples can include requesting dates or sexual favors, spreading rumors about a person’s personal or sexual life, and threatening a worker for refusing your sexual advances. Physical examples can include inappropriate touching such as kissing, hugging, patting, or stroking a worker.


What kind of leave do I owe pregnant employees?

As an employer, you might have employees request maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a family or health issue, including childbirth. Under this federal law, employees who take FMLA leave must be allowed to return to work in the same or an equivalent capacity when the leave period ends.


How should I provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects the rights of employees with disabilities. Title I of the Act requires employers to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to obtain a job and successfully perform their duties. One way to do this is by making reasonable accommodations. If you’re not sure of how to accommodate an employee with disabilities or are considering hiring someone who lives with a disability, you may need to make physical changes to the office environment (such as installing ramps) and/or update your technologies and/or communications systems. The specific accommodations vary by the disability of your employee. For example, a person who is hard of hearing may need a sign language interpreter to attend meetings or company events.


Do I need to make an employee handbook for my employees?

Employers in Colorado are not legally required to provide handbooks for their employees; however, it is generally a good idea to do so. Employers and employees can benefit from a handbook because a handbook provides a physical reference for everyone in the company to review policies and procedures. With a handbook, all employees are subject to the same rules. Managers who train employees can also spend less time discussing policy and more time providing crucial hands-on training that will ensure the employee’s future success. Above all, handbooks provide an excellent form of legal protection because laying out policies in writing reduces the opportunity for future lawsuits.

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The Guide to Employment Law That No Employee or Employer Should Be Without