Subtitle: 
Don't inadvertently create an employment contract with new hires.

In Colorado, employment is rebuttably presumed to be “at-will,” which means that both the employer and employee are free to terminate the employment relationship without cause and without notice (hence the term "at-will").  

But employers should be careful when deciding to let employees go because both the federal government and Colorado recognize exceptions to the "at-will" presumption.  These include terminating an employee for:

Important Tip To avoid any doubt, clearly spell out the "at-will" employment relationship in employee documents.
  • discriminatory reasons (e.g., race, gender, and sexual orientation)
  • engaging in lawful activity off employer premises during non-working hours (what employees do in their personal time is their business)
  • responding to a jury summons
  • refusing to engage in illegal conduct
  • engaging in a job-related right or performing a specific statutory duty (you can't fire someone for doing something they're allowed or required to do)
  • whistle blowing (e.g., an employee's good faith attempt to prevent an employer's participation in defrauding the government )

In addition, if an employer handbook contains progressive disciplinary measures that the employer represents it will follow before terminating an employee, the employee may be able to enforce those measures before an employer may terminate him or her.  For example, if the handbook says that the employer will give employees a warning for a first violation, the employer may be required to abide by that promise before it may terminate an employee.

Like many legal issues, investing time and care up front can save you a lot of trouble down the road.  To avoid any question of whether an individual is employed at-will versus by contract, draft employment documents, such as employee handbooks and contracts, with language that clearly spells out the at-will employment relationship.  For example, “You are an employee at-will, which means that you can be terminated at any time, with or without cause and without notice.”

Additional Information
Important Tip: 
To avoid any doubt, clearly spell out the "at-will" employment relationship in employee documents.
Marketing copy: 
drafting employment agreements