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Can I Get Fired in Colorado Just for Being Arrested?

By Peters & Nolan, LLC on November 28, 2021

Unfortunately, in many cases you can be legally fired in Colorado for being arrested, even if you have not been convicted. There are legal exceptions to protect workers in certain situations, such as whistleblower statutes and state and federal anti-discrimination laws, but because Colorado is an “at-will” state, employees hired for an indefinite period can be fired at any time for almost any reason.

Do You Have to Reveal Your Criminal Record When Applying for a Job?

The good news is that Colorado is a “ban the box” state. That means employers with more than 11 employees are legally forbidden to limit applicants for a new position based on their criminal records. And employers cannot require potential employees to disclose any previous convictions they may have at the time of hiring.

Despite Colorado’s “ban-the-box” rule, there are still some people who must legally reveal criminal convictions for purposes of employment. This includes teachers, police officers, and people whose jobs are related to public health and safety. In fact, anyone applying for an employment license in Colorado must report all misdemeanor and felony convictions.

 

When Is It Illegal to Fire Someone in Colorado?

Many employees have contracts that stipulate conditions under which they can be fired, and these contracts may entitle them to certain protections. This could prevent an employer from firing an employee simply for being arrested or limit the types of convictions that would allow the employer to terminate a contract.

For at-will employees, employment rights are severely limited. One exception is when the employee can prove they were the victim of discrimination. Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees in regard to race, creed, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, or ancestry. In such cases, an at-will employee has legal protection against illegal termination.

So-called whistleblower laws shield public employees from termination for reporting various types of misconduct in the workplace. Whistleblower protections are much more limited for at-will employees in Colorado. But at-will employees are generally protected from wrongful discharge when they report illegal or fraudulent behavior.

Should You Tell Your Employer If You Have Been Arrested?

There are cases when employees definitely should report to their employers that they have been arrested. For some job classifications, employees are required to do so by law. Also, many employers require employees to report all arrests and employees may be fired for failing to do so in violation of their contract or stated company policy. Consult your company handbook, employment contract, HR department, or company website to find out if you are required to report an arrest to your employer.

If your arrest is related to your job, you will probably want to report it to your employer. For example, if you are arrested for a traffic violation while driving a company vehicle, it’s a good idea to tell your employer about it right away as they will certainly learn about it eventually.

In some cases, you might want to share your side of the story before your employer discovers that you have been arrested. Many employers run periodic background checks and court proceedings are in the public record, so there’s a good chance they will find out about it anyway.

If you are thinking about talking to your employer about your arrest, you want to consult with your attorney first. Discussing a pending case with anyone makes them a potential witness, so you could be putting your employer in a difficult position by revealing too many details about your situation.

 

Peters & Nolan, LLC: We’re Here to Help

If you have been arrested for any reason, you need an attorney who will fight for your rights. With over 40 years of combined experience in Colorado DUI and criminal law, Andrew J. Peters and Andrew J. Nolan, will be right beside you every step of the way. Call (970) 243-4357 today. Nobody should have to go to court without the best possible defense.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense

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Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.

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