There are many agencies that take reports of and investigate employers for violating federal or Colorado laws that protect this state’s workers.
Most of the time, these agencies learn about violations from employees themselves.
Likewise, it is employees who can provide key information to investigators that will help them correct law violations and protect workers.
This is not surprising since employers who are trying to get around the law will usually operate under the radar as much as they can.
These companies might try to keep their employees quiet through a culture of intimidation.
In other words, a company makes sure that their staff knows that if a worker complains, they will get disciplined or even fired. Fewer workers will come forward to assert their rights if they think the tradeoff is unemployment.
Retaliation for asserting workplace rights is illegal
The practice of punishing workers who report or help authorities investigate employment law violations is called retaliation.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is just one of many state and federal agencies that enforce anti-retaliation laws. Anti-retaliation laws are actually a collection of laws at the state and federal level.
For example, alleged violations of Colorado’s wage and hour and laws may be reported to the state’s Department of Labor and Employment. The Department enforces their own set of anti-retaliation laws if an employer tries to fire or discipline an employee for raising a wage issue.
Generally speaking, it is illegal for an employer to in any way discipline or take other action against an employee if an employee reports a suspected employment law violation to the proper authorities in good faith.
This is the case even if the employee was not the victim of the suspected law violation. Employees still have protection if it turns out their report does not lead to a penalty against the employer or even to a detailed investigation.
It is also illegal to punish employees who choose to participate in an official investigation.
The important point to remember is that workers in the Denver area, and throughout the state, have the freedom to assert their rights to a fair workplace and to help others do the same.
If an employer tries illegally to deprive them of their right to complain, workers may have legal options beyond complaining to administrative agencies. They may also be able to recover compensation in a lawsuit.