Four ways hiring Denver employment lawyers differs from other lawyers

Most people fortunately will never find themselves in a position to need to hire a Denver employment lawyer but if you are on this site you either know you need an employment lawyer or think you might be on a path that will require one. As a result of so few interactions with employment lawyers, it is common and completely understandable to not know how to find a Denver employment lawyer or what it means to hire an employment lawyer.

Hiring a lawyer is not a terribly unusual experience these days. Many people have experience hiring divorce lawyers, criminal defense lawyers for traffic tickets, probate lawyers or maybe even a personal injury attorney for a car wreck or other injury. Aside from personal injury attorneys, employment lawyers work differently from these other attorneys in important ways (and even differently from many personal injury claims). Today’s post will explore four important ways hiring a Denver employment lawyer is different from hiring other attorneys.

Denver employment lawyer

You are less likely to have a personal referral for Denver employment lawyers

One of the most common ways people find and hire lawyers is through personal referrals by family, friends and other people in their lives. This is especially common in areas of law where you are most likely to know somebody who hired an attorney in the past. Examples in this area include divorce lawyers, traffic ticket lawyers, probate lawyers and estate planning attorneys. Personal referrals are useful ways to find lawyers because they come from reputable sources in your life vouching for the lawyer. Sometimes attorney referrals come from other professionals in your life, such as therapists, doctors and ministers.

On the other hand, you are less likely to know somebody who hired employment lawyers in the past so finding those personal referrals are more difficult. There are also fewer professionals with regular contacts with employee-side employment lawyers unless you work with a union. As a result, your search for Denver employment lawyers may rely more on internet research. (See this post for more information about finding Denver employment lawyers.) You might also reach out to attorney referral services through the Colorado Bar Association or the Denver Bar Association.

The fee structure for legal services may differ from what you paid for other legal services

Employment lawyers often charge fees for legal services on structures different from what you may have experienced in the past. Your past experience with lawyers may have been paying on an hourly basis, which is common in family law, or on a flat fee basis, common in estate planning and traffic ticket legal services. Employment lawyers sometimes charge on an hourly or flat fee basis, particularly when the work involves reviewing or negotiating employment contracts and severance agreements.

However, many employee-side employment law work involves pursuing claims through litigation or other dispute resolution avenues. This work can be expensive and most employees in Colorado do not have the funds to pay for employment lawyers on an hourly basis. Instead Denver employment lawyers may offer to work under a contingency fee agreement, what some call a no win-no fee agreement. Under a contingency fee agreement your lawyers work without payment up front and share in a percentage of proceeds collected in your case. Contingency fees are common in personal injury and consumer law cases as well. These fee agreements allow plaintiff-side attorneys to work diligently for plaintiffs and still receive compensation for their work.

Your labor and employment law claims may involve more technical legal expertise

Most individuals hire lawyers for legal services that do not involve complicated legal analysis. Labor and employment law claims often involve complex legal issues which make these issues more difficult than a lot of other common cases. This legal complexity can make your case more difficult and take longer to resolve. That means your need for an employment lawyer with expertise in the issues in your case is greater.

Many other common legal needs may rely more on other expertise such as negotiation skills or familiarity with the way insurance companies resolve claims. That is not to say other lawyers are less equipped or less intelligent. That is not true. Rather, the usual divorce or traffic citation do not involve complicated legal questions as much as complicated fact issues or knowing how to maneuver the applicable system.

Most Denver employment lawyers represent employers or employees—but not both

It is extremely common for employment lawyers around the country to represent only plaintiff-side employees or defense-side employers. Part of what can make finding an employment lawyer right for your situation is distinguishing between the law firms that represent employees from those who only represent employers. It is not necessary to hire an attorney who only represents workers in employee rights cases but you certainly want an employment lawyer who represent plaintiffs. If you search for employment lawyers online then one issue to review is whether the Denver employment lawyer represents employees.

If you believe you need to hire a Denver employment lawyer then you should locate and research lawyers in your area. You should consider several factors in your search but conduct your search and research within a reasonably short period of time. Many labor and employment law issues require you to act within a limited period of time to preserve your claims.

EEOC or Hiring a Lawyer: When Do You Need an Attorney for Job Discrimination in Colorado?

Do you need an attorney for job discrimination in Colorado or should you rely on the EEOC to represent your interests? Employees who suffer discrimination on the job in Colorado likely have never had to deal with the EEOC or hire an employment discrimination lawyer in Denver. Learn more about when you may want to talk to an EEOC lawyer and when you do not have to work with the EEOC. This post will discuss:

  • The EEOC process;
  • When you must follow the EEOC process;
  • When you do not have to follow the EEOC process;
  • What an attorney for job discrimination can do for you; and
  • When you may want to talk to an attorney.

Employees in Denver and other parts of Colorado may have alternative procedures and remedies under state anti-discrimination law and we will touch on that issue as well; however, the primary focus of this post will be the EEOC process and federal employment discrimination remedies.

Most job discrimination claims in Colorado must go to the EEOC

If you believe you suffered job discrimination and need an attorney you need to know that many federal civil rights laws require you to first file a complaint with the EEOC before you can file a federal lawsuit. Most federal employment discrimination laws require you to file a complaint with the EEOC called a charge of discrimination. After filing your charge of discrimination, EEOC investigators will investigate and you likely will proceed through an informal settlement process.

If your complaint does not settle then you will either have the opportunity to have your case heard by an administrative law judge or file a lawsuit in court. The EEOC investigator may tell you that you do not need to hire an attorney for job discrimination; but that may result in missing options in your employment discrimination or hostile work environment claims.

EEOC Lawyer

Why you may want to talk to an attorney for job discrimination in Colorado first

You can file a complaint with the EEOC without hiring an attorney for job discrimination. The EEOC intake process for complaints is designed to allow workers to report discrimination on the job without an attorney. However, you may want to schedule a consultation or hire an attorney for job discrimination before filing your EEOC complaint. Your attorney for job discrimination may encourage you to follow the EEOC process. A lawyer can advise you how to proceed through the process and what to include in your complaint. Anything you leave out of an EEOC complaint likely cannot be pursued later so it is important to present a strong EEOC complaint.

Additionally, Colorado has its own state remedies for job discrimination. Colorado state law (C.R.S. 24-34-401 et seq) creates its own framework for dealing with job discrimination. C.R.S. 24-34-401 et seq. provides state law remedies for job discrimination broader than some federal anti-discrimination laws. The Colorado employment law also empowers the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to receive charges of discrimination. The state agency can investigate and pursue claims of job discrimination. Colorado employment lawyers can advise you whether you should pursue your claims under federal or state law and with which agency to file your charge.

Employment discrimination lawyer Denver

When you can go straight to court under federal discrimination law

Most job discrimination laws require you to exhaust your administrative remedies through the EEOC or a state discrimination agency before you can file a lawsuit. Two federal employment laws do not require you to exhaust remedies before filing a lawsuit:

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Equal Pay Act

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age against workers over forty. It requires employees to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC but does not require the worker to receive a Right to Sue Letter from the EEOC before filing a federal lawsuit. The worker must file suit, if desired, no earlier than sixty days after filing the charge of discrimination and no later than the ninetieth day after the EEOC concludes its investigation.

The Equal Pay Act prohibits discrimination in compensation between men and women. It does not require workers to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or receive a Right to Sue Letter before filing a lawsuit. Note that an employee may have sex discrimination claims under both the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which does require filing a complaint with the EEOC. Before deciding not to file a complaint with the EEOC you should talk to an attorney for job discrimination. If you have potential claims under both statutes and do not file a charge of discrimination and lose on your Equal Pay Act claim you may not be able to file a claim for the same discriminatory acts under Title VII. A lawyer familiar with the EEOC and anti-discrimination statutes can help you assess the best course of action.

When you can opt out of EEOC involvement in your Colorado job discrimination claim

You may be required by federal employment law to begin your job discrimination claim with an EEOC complaint. However, you do not have to keep your discrimination claim with the EEOC. You have the option under anti-discrimination laws to quit the EEOC administrative process and file a private lawsuit if one or more conditions are true. These include:

  • The agency has not responded with a decision within 180 days and no appeal has been filed on the complaint;
  • The EEOC issued a determination and neither employer or employee filed an appeal;
  • The EEOC does not respond to your appeal or the employer’s appeal with a determination within 180 days; and
  • You do not agree with the EEOC’s conclusion on your appeal.

The EEOC may choose not to pursue your charge of discrimination and issue a “Notice of Right to Sue” to you. If you receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC then you should talk to an attorney for job discrimination right away.

attorney for job discrimination in Colorado

Note that should you decide to pursue a private lawsuit you must do so within ninety days of the EEOC:

  • Issuing a decision and no appeal is filed;
  • Issuing a decision on an appeal to its initial decision; or
  • Declining to pursue your charge of discrimination and issuing a Notice of Right to Sue.

If you fail to file a private lawsuit within this limitations period then you may be barred from pursuing your claims in court. Therefore, it is vital that you talk to an attorney for job discrimination–if you haven’t hired one already–about your options. Waiting to talk to an employment lawyer or filing a lawsuit can be fatal to your discrimination claims.

Hiring a lawyer in federal court or go to the EEOC with your Colorado job discrimination claims

Often the EEOC administrative process will not result in a satisfactory resolution through its settlement or other administrative procedures. The EEOC may decide to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of you and your claims. The EEOC files federal lawsuits on job discrimination claims on few complaints but if it decides to pursue yours in federal court you have options. You may allow the EEOC to represent you in court. You can also choose to have a private attorney for job discrimination represent you. This can give you more flexibility and control over your case, particularly over settlements. If the EEOC represents you in federal court then the agency is not required to take direction from you on the lawsuit.

If you have already hired an attorney for job discrimination before filing your EEOC charge of discrimination then you and your attorney will make decisions about how to proceed with a trial at that time.

Hiring an attorney for job discrimination for your Colorado state law claims

As discussed above, Colorado state law also prohibits several forms of job discrimination. Under Colorado law you may also need to file a complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. If you file an EEOC complaint you can request to cross-file the complaint with the state. Colorado law has similar administrative procedures as the EEOC. You may need to exhaust administrative remedies applicable to state law to proceed with a lawsuit that includes state law claims.

You should talk to a Colorado attorney for job discrimination about your case before filing a complaint with either agency. Your attorney can discuss the strategic considerations behind filing your claims under federal law, state law, or a combination of the two. Once you start taking action on your claims you may make decisions that limit your procedural options. Gain legal counsel before taking those steps to put the strongest case forward.

Finding a Denver employment lawyer for job discrimination

Employment lawyers in Denver and other parts of Colorado often have experience working with job discrimination claims under federal and state law. There are many ways to find an employment lawyer to advise you on your claims. Employment discrimination claims are among the more common claims handled by employment law attorneys in Colorado. Research lawyers and schedule a consultation with one or more to discuss your claims and consider representation. Employee rights lawyers in Denver and around Colorado can discuss the issues raised in this post with you along with other important issues to your potential lawsuit.

8 Popular Ways to Find Denver Employment Lawyers Online

For decades lawyer advertising centered on the yellow pages. Even after the Supreme Court concluded advertising bans violated the First Amendment in the 1970s and law firms began running ads on radio, TV, billboards and other outlets, the yellow pages was still the heart of law firm advertising. In the 1990s law firm advertisements became commonplace on television but you could still count on law firms spending money on advertisements in the yellow pages. That’s because as a culture the phone book provided important contact information for businesses and was treated as an authority source merely for publishing free listings of addresses and phone numbers. The yellow pages went away as a dominant law firm advertising resource as the internet grew in popularity and convenience. Today you can find a local lawyer and call right from the search results from a phone in your pocket or purse.

 

Finding lawyers online versus the phone book

Lawyer advertisements online are fundamentally different from the phone book. In the phone book, the publisher controlled the space entirely and law firms only had the choice to pay for the amount of advertisement they wanted. Standard listings were alphabetical without exception. The publication was highly regimented and it had to be because people expected the phone book to provide listings in that format.

On the other hand, the internet is more chaotic. Law firms advertise in search engine listings and spend considerable resources trying to position themselves within the organic search results. There are also businesses providing law firm and lawyer listings of both free and paid opportunities in addition to bar associations and lawyer referral services who provide listings. It’s not always easy to trust that the lawyers you find are the right lawyers to help you with your problems.

Navigating the internet for employment lawyers in Denver

Searching for a Denver employment lawyer online can be confusing and frustrating for several reasons. Many people think of labor law or employment law as a narrow field of law; however, it is a broad area spanning every facet of the employment relationship. These include:

  • Compensation and benefit issues;
  • Insurance law;
  • Finance and investment law;
  • Tax law;
  • Medical leave law;
  • Workers’ compensation;
  • Discrimination;
  • Wrongful termination;
  • Union and other collective employee acts;
  • Personal injury law;
  • HIPAA and other medical information protection laws;
  • Family law;
  • Gun possession law;
  • Criminal law; and several others.

Within this wide span of law you will likely find that not every attorney who practices employment law or labor law deals with every possible employment law issue or has expertise in the facts of a specific situation. Additionally, many employment lawyers in Denver and around the state represent only employees or employers. (Some employment lawyers represent both sides.)

An employee searching for an employment lawyer often begins not knowing if there even is a legal issue or the extent of legal issues involved. That makes it difficult to know what employment lawyers should be on the list to research or contact. As an employee you may have some idea that you have an unpaid wage issue or need a wrongful termination lawyer but there may be several other employment law issues involved in that situation. There is no single perfect path for an employee to take to learn enough about employment law to find the right employment lawyer just by researching online. You may have to contact one or more Denver employment lawyers for a consultation to discuss your situation and determine your next steps.

Conducting a Google search to find a Denver employment lawyer

Today most people begin searching for anything with a Google search and that includes finding a lawyer. (If not Google then another search engine.) Google does not review websites or businesses to categorize their search results. Instead it uses a complex algorithm to assess websites and businesses that it believes best apply to your search terms. For example, if you search “Denver employment lawyers” then the search engine will produce a list of websites it believes belong to Denver employment lawyers based upon the way it reads and scores the content of the website. The ranking for a given website is not an assessment of the quality or skill of the website owner. It only reflects how the website scores against the search algorithm (or a paid placement).

A search request for Denver employment lawyers will produce several types of results:

  • Paid placements;
  • Local results; and
  • Organic search results.

Paid placements

Within the search results you will see paid placements to put employment lawyers in favorable locations within the results. Often paid advertisements appear at the top of search results where you are most likely to click. Like the search algorithm, Google does not assess the advertiser’s skill or expertise before placing an ad. That is not to say the law firm placing the ad is not skilled or knowledgeable about your employee rights situation.

Local results

Local results reflect businesses matching the search terms in proximity to your current location. Local results are organized by its own algorithm that matches information about the business, user reviews and location to deliver a list of law firms that meet your search terms and proximity. The order of law firms produced is similarly not a question of Google conducting a review of the merits of each law firm. It is how much the information it has about each law firm best matches your search terms and location. Certainly the location of a law firm is an important consideration.

Organic search results

Organic search results reflect which employment lawyer website matches your search terms. The search algorithm is a complex formula with a long list of factors that include location, content, page speed, visibility, link profile and other factors related to the website. Google does not review lawyers for ranking, only how the website matches the search terms. Denver employment lawyers appear in various combinations of search terms (often for people searching in Colorado) and can vary widely in placement merely by changing the order of search terms. Law firms, like other businesses, often spend money to produce a website that ranks highly as a form of advertising.

Value of search results for employment lawyers

Although Google does not automatically produce the perfect lawyer in search results every time it can be extremely helpful to search for Denver employment lawyers in a search engine. It is a good way to familiarize yourself with local employment lawyers and their location. It is also a good way to research information about employment lawyers and employment law issues. The more specific your search the more targeted the results so searching for something more specific than “employment lawyers” or “employment lawyers Denver” can be very helpful to find lawyers who might be more familiar with the legal aspects of your specific situation.

Avvo

Avvo is a website that provides access to lawyer listings and other lawyer-related services. Avvo began in 2007 in Seattle with an evolving business model. It is most commonly known for two aspects: lawyer listings and the Q&A forum. Additionally, Avvo offers a legal form platform and a platform to ask lawyers within particular fields questions for a stated sum of money.

One is a lawyer listing system in which lawyer profiles are generated from information obtained from other sites (such as state bar websites) and given a ranking. The ranking formula is proprietary and confidential. Lawyers may claim their profile and add information which appears to improve rankings. Within the listings lawyers can pay to upgrade their account which removed ads for other lawyers from their profile and places them at the top of the listings for regional and legal area listings.

The other is a large free Q&A section organized by state and practice area in which lawyers can answer questions. The Q&A section is largely unmoderated so the answers provided may not be completely accurate. Lawyers gain points by answering questions which can move them up a second listing system categorized by points and practice area.

Avvo is criticized by some lawyers for aspects of the site, such as the ranking system, but it is a convenient place to find disciplinary history for lawyers and find basic information about attorneys who may not have robust websites. Avvo allows users to review attorneys (which it says do not affect ranking) which may be useful to consider.

(Avvo was recently acquired by Martindale.)

Martindale-Hubbell

Martindale-Hubbell (sometimes referred to as just Martindale) began as a paper directory of lawyers in 1868. Today it is an online directory and owns several other lawyer directory and marketing businesses. For most of its history it was considered the authoritative directory of lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell provides a peer review ranking which many lawyers continue to advertise. The business’s website includes law blogs and other legal information in addition to one of the largest lawyer directories in the world.

Lawyers.com

Lawyers.com provides another large directory of lawyers and a Q&A forum. The website was once an independent venture but is now part of Martindale’s collection of lawyer websites. Lawyer profiles on the website include information about the lawyer including:

  • Background;
  • Legal areas practiced by the lawyer;
  • Contact information;
  • Law school and bar admissions;
  • Peer reviews;
  • Client reviews;
  • Access to Q&A answers provided by the lawyer; and
  • Martindale ratings.

The website provides both a paid and free listing option to lawyers. Lawyers who opt for the free listing will display reviews and basic contact information while paid listings provide the other information as well. You can locate lawyers in the listings through location and practice area. For example, you can search for employment lawyers in Denver and find a list of the law firms within the site’s directory.

Lawyers.com is a good way to review information about lawyers although its free listing option provides less information than other free listings like Avvo. It is still another good place to review lawyer information.

Findlaw

Findlaw is one of the largest providers of legal content online including providing law firm websites, marketing and lawyer directories. It began in 1995 with acquisition by what is today Thomson Reuters in 2001. Findlaw sites appear prominently in searches for local lawyers and legal information. The business markets extensively to lawyers and law firms to join its services. The lawyer directory on Findlaw is today entirely paid. Lawyers appearing in the directory have paid to do so and no free listings exist.

Justia

Justia began in 2003 by a former Findlaw employee and provides a similarly large legal information site. Justia provides a wide range of information from statute and cases to Q&A to lawyer directories. The lawyer directory includes paid and free options. The free lawyer profiles contain information about practice areas, contact information and answers by the lawyer in its Q&A forum. You can search for lawyers on the website by location and practice area. Its profiles often also appear in search engine results.

Colorado Bar Association referrals

The Colorado Bar Association is a voluntary state bar available to lawyers across the state and all practice areas. It includes a referral service in which consumers may contact the bar to request a referral by location and practice area. Referrals are made from member lawyers so not all employment lawyers in the state obtain referrals through the service. Nevertheless, it is a good way to find employment lawyers who might be able to help you with your problem.

Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association referrals

The Colorado Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association, or PELA, is a voluntarily association of employment lawyers who represent employees. It is a state affiliate of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) which is a voluntary national association of employee rights lawyers.

PELA offers a referrals service for employees seeking an employment lawyer in the state. Like the Colorado Bar Association, referrals are only made to member lawyers. Referrals requested through the website can select from a wide range of employment law issues which may help narrow the focus of a referral to an attorney skilled in your particular issue.

Which is the right way to find a Denver employment lawyer?

There is no single right way to find a Denver employment lawyer. Online research and referrals are good opportunities to find employment lawyers and research whether they may be equipped to help you with your employee rights issue. The profiles and websites for employment lawyers can help you understand which local lawyers may be a potential fit for your needs and may provide answers to employment law questions. Your research may consider several factors and ultimately you may need to schedule a consultation with one or more attorneys to find a Denver employment lawyer that fits your needs.

Denver Labor Law is not affiliated with and did not receive compensation from any entity discussed in this post. Denver Labor Law does not take a position on which, if any, of these entities may provide the best information or the best referral to a lawyer for your needs. If you believe you need an employment lawyer then you should begin researching and contacting law firms as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Rely upon the advice of a licensed attorney to discuss your situation and next steps. 

What happens during a consultation with a Denver employment lawyer?

The start of most attorney-client relationships is the consultation. A consultation is not a uniform act across all law firms; they don’t teach how to have a consultation in law school. It is not a special process. It is just an initial meeting between lawyer and prospective client. Law firms treat consultations differently depending upon their intake process for prospective clients and what areas of law they work. The basic role of a consultation for employment lawyers is to understand the client’s situation and see if the law firm can help the client solve his or her problems. Let’s talk in more detail about the role of a consultation and what you might expect during a consultation with a Denver employment lawyer.

The role of a consultation with an employment lawyer

If you have never hired a lawyer to help you with a legal problem then you might be unsure what exactly happens during a consultation. The purposes of a consultation generally include:

  1. Gathering information about the client and the client’s legal problem;
  2. Assessing the client’s credibility as a potential client and witness;
  3. Explaining the attorney’s ability to help solve the legal problem;
  4. The attorney assessing whether to take the potential client on as a client;
  5. The potential client assessing whether to hire the attorney;
  6. The attorney selling legal services to the client;
  7. (Hopefully) forming an attorney-client relationship.

Some law firms focus more on the information gathering and may investigate or consider the case in more detail before moving forward with forming a business relationship, while others focus more on forming the relationship and then collecting more information later. Many firms do a lot of both processes during a consultation.

Whether the potential client is an employer or employee can affect the direction of the consultation. A Colorado employer might need an employment lawyer to work on an immediate problem or want an employment law specialist on retainer. A lawyer consulting with an employer might need to assess the situation differently. Employees normally seek employment lawyers because there is an immediate situation, such as a termination or unpaid wages, and the lawyer needs to assess whether there is a claim to pursue right now or to help the client prepare in the event the situation worsens. These situations all require probing for different types of information and assessing different courses of action with the potential client.

What to expect in a consultation with a Denver employment lawyer

Law firms in Colorado treat consultations differently depending upon their business model and drive for new clients. Do not expect that consultations with lawyers will all be exactly the same. Remember that employment lawyers use consultations to assess potential clients and their cases, which means they are making business decisions about cases during consultations.

Often people believe a consultation with an attorney is an opportunity to solicit advise or have questions answered about employment law or other topics. This is generally not the case. Typically lawyers do not offer extensive legal advice during a consultation beyond assessing the case and what steps may need to occur for a case to become viable. Providing legal advice to a client is normally part of the attorney-client relationship that forms after both attorney and potential client decide to form a business relationship.

Some employment lawyers may offer varying degrees of legal advice as part of assessing your situation and may be necessary to explain whether a case is worth pursuing. You should not be surprised if you contact a law firm seeking free legal advise or to provide you with explanations of employment law that the firm expects you to pay for their time to provide you legal counsel.

Denver employment lawyers

Should I have a paid or a free consultation with an employment lawyer?

Paying for a consultation is not indicative of whether the law firm or employment lawyer is qualified to assist you with your situation. Of course, everybody likes something for free and a free consultation is enticing. It is supposed to be. Law firms generally offer free consultations to entice people to schedule a consultation so the law firm can assess many potential clients and find good cases. By removing cost as a factor, it makes it more convenient for people to schedule a consultation because then the only cost involved to the potential client is time.

Free consultations generally arose from personal injury attorneys who practice in a highly competitive area of law in which a lot of money is often spent on marketing. Giving away a lawyer’s time to free consultations is not really free to the law firm because the lawyer could spend that time working on other cases or even taking paid consultations. The free consultation is a marketing cost to the firm. Due to the breadth of personal injury marketing people have often come to expect free consultations as a part of all legal counsel. This is not true. Most areas of law still use paid consultations. Employment law has become more competitive among law firms and part of that has driven free consultations into this area of law.

However, a paid consultation may be no different in terms of process or information provided. The law firm may charge for a consultation because it believes the potential client receives value in the assessment of the situation which definitely requires the lawyer’s skill and expertise. Law firms charging consultations may want to conserve their lawyers’ time to paid work (like most employers) or may want to limit their consultations to people willing to make an investment in their own case.

Whether you should pay for a consultation is not just a question of cost. You should also consider, among other factors, whether the law firm or its attorneys have the skills and expertise to help you with your situation. Looking at the larger picture, if you have a potential case worth thousands (or more), the initial cost of the consultation may be minimal compared to the overall potential recovery. Also consider that many labor and employment law claims allow plaintiffs to recover attorney’s fees which include the cost of the consultation.

 

Denver, Colorado CBD

Find an employment law attorney in Denver, Colorado

Finding an employment lawyer is not always an easy task for Colorado workers. You probably know enough people that have had a divorce or traffic ticket that you could find a referral for a divorce lawyer or criminal defense lawyer without much work; however, you probably know fewer people who hired Colorado employment law attorneys at some point in their career. Often employees do not know much about employment law or where to even begin finding an employment lawyer in Colorado. Today’s post will help demystify some of these issues.

What is employment law and how does it differ from labor law?

There is plenty of confusion to go around about what labor law means and what employment law means. The short answer is that there is no meaningful difference to worry about. Often you will see even legal resources refer to the two as a combined “labor and employment law”. Many attorneys who do not practice in these areas likely could not even tell you a difference. Labor law and employment law both relate to the employee-employer relationship although they deal with the relationship in different ways.

Employment law

Generally what we call employment law deals with an individual employee to employer relationship. These cover medical leave laws, employment discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages or overtime and issues involving individual employment contracts. Even in workplace situations involving multiple workers you could isolate each individual’s relationship with the employer. From there you can determine whether violations of employment law occurred.

Common employment law claims in Colorado include:

  • Employment discrimination
  • Unpaid wages
  • Overtime pay
  • Hostile work environment/harassment
  • Wrongful termination
  • Family and medical leave issues

Labor law

On the other hand, labor law deals with the relationship between the employees as a collective workforce and the employer. Labor law protects the right of individual employees to come together and bargain over work conditions and terms of employment. Most people think about labor law in a formal union setting. Labor law definitely involves unionization and union rights in the workplace; however, employees also have rights under labor law without the presence of a formal or permanent union entity. Employees can act ad hoc to negotiate over individual situations as they arise.

Labor law claims often proceed through specific channels rather than lawsuits, such as NLRB complaints or arbitration proceedings under a collective bargaining agreement.

Denver employment lawyers

What kind of lawyer do I need?

Chances are good you do not know exactly what claims you may have or how to find the top labor or employment law attorneys in Colorado for your specific needs. That is ok; the good news is that most employee rights attorneys do not distinguish between one or the other.

Labor lawyers in Colorado tend not to practice exclusively in labor law unless employed by a union or union-related organization. If you need a labor attorney in Denver or other parts of Colorado you most likely will end up talking to an employment lawyer. Not all employment attorneys in Colorado have expertise or experience working with labor law so you may need to search carefully for lawyers who fit that need if you have a labor law issue. Employers searching for labor law attorneys in Colorado may have an easier time hiring big law firms who have labor law departments that they can source from offices around the country. Employees will have to look closely to find labor lawyers in Colorado.

Most employees searching for a labor or employment law attorney have employment law claims and need employment law firms in Denver or other parts of Colorado.

Can I find free employment lawyers in Colorado?

Lawyers have a deserved reputation for being expensive. Many people do not have money to throw around casually on legal representation. That is especially true for many employment law claims in which the employee was fired, not hired, demoted or has unpaid wages for work performed. It is common for people to search out pro bono lawyers in Denver and other parts of Colorado or to seek out Colorado labor and employment attorneys for a free consult.

Pro bono lawyers in Colorado

Pro bono lawyers work for free or what is sometimes called “low bono” which is work at a reduced rate. While it is great to receive free labor, often lawyers provide pro bono services to very low income individuals. For example, in the greater Denver, Colorado area pro bono services are available through the Metro Volunteer Lawyers program through the Denver Bar Association. MVL provides pro bono legal services for specific types of cases or documents if the individual is below the income and asset limits set by the organization.

colorado employment law lawyers

Free consultations with employment lawyers

Lawyers began offering free consultations as a way to get prospective clients in the door. Law firms treat free consultations in different ways. Most often the consult is an opportunity for lawyers to interview prospective clients to determine if there is a worthwhile case and then reach an agreement to proceed with the case. Often legal advice is not offered in the course of a free consultation but some law firms may provide limited legal advise.

Employment attorneys in many parts of the county do not offer free consultations because analyzing whether a labor or employment law claim is worth pursuing is often more complex than making the same determination about a car wreck or divorce. However, personal injury firms, who often provide free consultations, also practice in some areas of employment law and may drive the rest of the legal market towards free or lower cost consultations. If you search for an employment attorney in Denver with a free consultation you will likely find one.

Whether Colorado employment law attorneys provide paid or free consultation is generally not an indication of the qualifications of the lawyer. It is more likely a marketing strategy or a decision by the employment law attorney to only provide legal advice on a paid basis.

Contingency fee lawyers

Many employment law attorneys in Colorado take certain labor and employment law claims on a contingency fee basis. Contingency fee agreements are agreements between lawyer and client to pay the lawyer a percentage of the proceeds of the claims instead of taking payment on an hourly fee or other basis that requires the client to pay out of pocket for the lawyer. Contingency fees allow employees who might not have thousands (or more likely, tens of thousands) of dollars to hire an attorney to represent them in complicated and costly litigation. This fee structure makes it easier for employees to pursue claims they otherwise could not afford.

The percentage paid to the attorney may range from 25% up to as much as 50% depending upon the claims, the law firm and when the case resolves. The contingency fee paid to the labor lawyer or employment lawyer is significant but the law firm essentially takes on the legal work on loan to the client with the risk of nonpayment–even if the law firm does the best possible work. An employment law lawsuit may take over one hundred hours of work to go to trial. At an hourly rate the attorney’s work is extremely expensive and few workers could reasonably afford to pay that out of pocket.

Colorado employment law attorneys typically do not take all cases on contingency. Some labor and employment law work does not lend itself to contingency fee work, like reviewing severance agreements, and sometimes the client’s goal is to avoid litigation which means there is no recovery to divide between lawyer and client. Additionally, employment law attorneys have to carefully screen cases before taking them on contingency; not all cases that could go to trial will produce meaningful recovery. Many employment law claims do not have concrete damages to recover or the facts may not be strong enough to litigate.

Colorado wrongful termination lawyers

Do I need to find a Denver employment lawyer for a labor law or employment law claim in Colorado?

Employees searching for a workplace attorney in Colorado want to find the best employment lawyers. As the largest city and state capital, many people will search for employment attorneys in Denver, Colorado. Generally it would not be a poor decision to hire employment law attorneys in Denver; however, there are labor and employment law attorneys in other parts of Colorado. Location alone typically is not the best way to find an employment lawyer. You can find employment attorneys in Colorado Springs and other large cities in the state.

Your case may benefit from finding a lawyer close to your home; however, generally labor law and employment law lawsuits do not require much time in the law firm’s office. Consider other factors in addition to the location of your lawyer. There may be reasons to hire an attorney close to your workplace or home; but this is likely the exception rather than the rule. Consider many factors while finding an employment law attorney including:

  • The attorney’s skills, expertise and experience dealing with labor law and employment law issues;
  • The attorney’s reputation with clients and within the legal community;
  • Fee structures offered for the work you need from the attorney;
  • How the attorney communicates with clients;
  • Location of the law firm;
  • The attorney’s expertise and experience dealing with the unique issues in your case; and
  • The attorney’s comfort dealing with the issues in your case and the size of your employer.

Finding a Denver employment lawyer

Maybe you live in the Denver, Colorado area or feel you will be best served by employment attorneys in Denver. In your search to find the best employment lawyers in Denver you will find many qualified employment attorneys among Denver’s business districts including downtown, Denver Tech Center, Capital Hill and Cherry Creek. Labor lawyers and employment lawyers can also be found outside of the city in Boulder, Broomfield and other northwest suburbs.

Denver is home to employment lawyers who represent employers and employees. In your search to find an employment lawyer or labor lawyer make sure you find attorneys who represent your side. While some lawyers represent both sides, most lawyers practicing in labor and employment law only represent one or the other.

 

2018 likely a big year for employment law in Colorado

We’re closing in on the end of the first quarter of 2018 which means the Colorado legislature is a little over halfway through its legislative session and the state courts are in full swing for the rest of the year. We’ve already seen a flurry of employment law activity in both the legislature and judiciary with more likely to come. Most employment law watchers have their eyes on the labor law appeals at SCOTUS but Colorado has a lot on the schedule for labor and employment law as well.

Colorado legislative employment law activity

Colorado is among several states where conservative lawmakers pursued bills seeking to undermine labor union presence and minimum wage protections. Thankfully in this state these bills appear dead for the session but other bills live on in the session. Among the labor and employment law legislation introduced this session include:

Immigration status. The House is currently perusing a bill to extend legal work status to undocumented workers in the state that meet specific requirements proving the worker’s history in this country has been positive.

FMLA insurance. Another House bill seeks to introduce an FMLA insurance program for wages. Under the proposed architecture small employee contributions would fund a wage replacement program for Colorado employees who take unpaid family and medical leave. Given the challenges created by the way the Colorado legislature designed its state FMLA statute to sit on top of the federal FMLA passage of this program could create new complications in the state’s family and medical leave law.

Non-compete exception for physicians. Physicians are generally better protected from overreaching non-compete agreements under Colorado law; however, they can be liable for damages caused by terminating the agreement. This Senate bill would create an exemption to damages for physicians to continue to provide care to patients with rare conditions.

Minimum wage waiver. In one of the more ridiculous legislative offerings a House representative offered a bill that would (1) require employers to notify job applicants of the right to negotiate minimum wage and (2) to negotiate a minimum wage less than the Colorado Constitution requires. The House committee quickly laughed at and destroyed this awful legislation.

Right to work bill. Not to limit their terribleness to just one bill, House Republicans introduced a bill to make Colorado a “right to work” state that allows workers to decline representation or membership in a union as a condition of employment. These bills are introduced by the GOP virtually every session but as usual this bill failed to reach a floor vote.

Gig workers are contractors. The Senate passed a bill last week that makes workers who find part-time jobs through online job marketplaces are contractors rather than employees. While many of these workers likely are contractors this bill seems more of a first step in expanding state law to make all workers in the gig economy contractors–surely a move backed by larger players in the field like Uber and Lyft who have been hit with misclassification lawsuits around the country.

Colorado courts employment law activity

If March is any indication how the Colorado Supreme Court feels about employment law it’s not a good sign for employees. This month Colorado’s highest court ruled against employee rights on small but important issues.

Teacher right to hearing before placement on unpaid leave overturned

The Colorado Supreme Court overturned an appeal on public school teacher rights to a hearing before being placed on unpaid leave. The teachers’ union asserted the Teacher Employment, Compensation and Dismissal Act of 1990 (TECDA) required a hearing before a teacher may be placed on unpaid leave. TECDA limits a teacher’s exposure to termination to specific reasons of just cause after a hearing, if the teacher completed the three year probationary period. The teachers’ union argued this created a due process right to a hearing on unpaid leave.

The court disagreed, holding that TECDA does not create a contract between the state and teachers, therefore the teachers lack a property interest in benefits and salary. Without a property interest the teachers do not have a violation of due process rights to assert. The result will be that school districts will obtain greater flexibility to eliminate teachers or force out teachers.

Statute of limitations on unpaid wage claims upon termination under the Colorado Wage Claim Act

In a case with broader implications, the Colorado Supreme Court also interpreted the Colorado Wage Claim Act (CWCA) to reduce the limitations period for claims of wages due upon termination. In Hernandez v. Ray Domenico Farms the court resolved the ambiguity over how far back an employee could seek unpaid wages due upon termination.

The CWCA sets a two year limitations period (extended to three if the violation is willful) for claims brought under the statute. (C.R.S. § 8-4-122.) Among the statutory claims is the right to be paid all due and unpaid wages upon termination. (C.R.S. § 8-4-109). The plaintiffs in this case, along with some Colorado courts, argued the limitations period reset with each instance of unpaid wages so the unpaid wages owed could extend as far back as the beginning of the employment relationship.

The Colorado Supreme Court disagreed, interpreting the CWCA similar to federal interpretations of limitations periods under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court held the limitations period only reaches back two years (or three if willful) before the date of termination. The court noted that the limitations period begins to run with each set of wages due; so it is possible that an employee could pursue a claim under C.R.S. § 8-4-109 as late as three years after the date of termination. The Supreme Court did not clarify this point but it appears to be the intended interpretation of the court’s opinion.

What should we expect for the rest of 2018?

The rest of the year will likely be a mixed bag for employees, particularly with the SCOTUS decisions that will weigh on federal labor law issues. As usual movement on the legislative and judicial fronts will be incremental with judicial decisions drawing narrow interpretations of existing statutes and employer-friendly lawmakers pushing through small changes. Most of these smaller changes receive little attention which allows a long but effective pro-employer shift in labor and employment law.

Find Denver employment lawyers in Colorado

10 Ways to Find an Employment Lawyer

Denver Labor Law provided this quick slideshow presentation about ways to find an employment lawyer in Colorado and anywhere else. Searching for an employment law attorney can range from a quick search on your phone to mining your personal network for referrals. There is not a “right” way to identify an employment lawyer. It may be necessary to apply several ways described here to find a good list of employment law attorneys. You can schedule consultations with their law firms and select the attorney right for your needs.