Colorado starts 2019’s legislative session with a healthy list of 227 proposed bills, many including provisions affecting the state’s labor laws and employment laws. Today’s post will briefly identify and discuss the major Colorado labor law and employment law changes proposed so far this year. Denver labor law will update as these bills move through the legislature and potentially become law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
- 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.
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 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 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 (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 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:
- 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 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 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.