Difference Between State & Federal Employment Law? | Denver Employment Attorney

A lot of people don’t understand that there are two layers of laws dealing with employment discrimination in the United States, and those are laws that are enacted by states, such as the state of Colorado, and laws enacted by the federal government. There are a huge variety of these laws that protect people against discrimination on different protected status, whether it be racial discrimination, ethnic discrimination, age discrimination, disability discrimination, but those laws don’t apply uniformly to every company and to every employer. A lot of it is driven by the question of how many employees a company has.

A very broad, general rule is that if you have 15 employees or less, you are governed by state law and not the federal laws. We think of things like Title VII, the Age Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC. Those are laws and federal agencies where you have to have 15 employees in order for various of the laws to apply, and that’s an oversimplification in and of itself because depending on which law you’re talking about, you may be required to have 20 employees before a law applies, 25 employees, or even 50 employees.

It’s a complicated system, and for you to be able to understand whether you have a potential claim, say, under the Age Discrimination Act under federal law or whether you have a state law claim, which may have different statutes of limitation, different courts you have to go to, it’s really important that you sit down with a good employment lawyer who can walk through this with you, understand the nature of the company you work for, how many employees they have, and give you some thoughts about what areas are really covered and what your rights are, because an employee who works for a 500-employee company may have completely different laws that apply to them than somebody who works for a company with three employees.

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