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Gateway Counsel represents businesses and executives regarding a wide variety of employment law issues. Services that Gateway Counsel can provide include:

  • Drafting common employment documents, such as employee handbooks, offer letters, employment agreements, separation agreements, and confidentiality/non-solicitation/non-competition agreements;
  • Providing guidance on common workplace issues, such as:
    • Internal complaints of discrimination, retaliation, pay disparities, bullying, harassment, and violation of law or company policy;
    • Wage and hour compliance;
    • Requests for disability accommodations;
    • Paid and unpaid leave practices;
    • Onboarding and hiring processes; and
    • Offboarding processes.
  • Conducting internal investigations;
  • Conducting mediations and arbitrations;
  • Developing or revising common workforce policies, such as policies relating to:
    • Paid leave;
    • Paid sick time;
    • Drug and alcohol use;
    • Confidentiality and data security;
    • Social media; and
    • Personal communication devices.
  • Representation in administrative proceedings before the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Colorado Civil Rights Division, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

To illustrate how Gateway Counsel might be able to help you with some common issues, the following examples describe how Elizabeth has handled a few of the most common issues raised by clients over the years. If you are wondering if Gateway Counsel can assist with your employment law need, feel free to CONTACT Elizabeth.

A client, we’ll call it “Axis, Inc,” received a report that one of its employees damaged a customer’s property when delivering product. Employee denied damaging customer’s property. Axis investigated the incident and determined that the employee had damaged the property and decided to terminate the employee. However, before the termination was accomplished, the employee lodged a complaint of discrimination and harassment against an executive of Axis. At this point, Axis contacted Elizabeth.

Elizabeth determined that the employee was a member of three categories protected from employment discrimination by state and federal law. A termination of the employee could look like illegal retaliatory conduct, and it also could incentivize the employee to pursue the internal claims of harassment and discrimination in court. Elizabeth worked with Axis to identify a plan of action to address the internal complaint and the employment status of the employee. The plan started with an on-site investigation of the allegations of discrimination and harassment. Elizabeth toured the facility, met with the employee, employee’s manager, colleagues, and the accused executive. She also interviewed the employee about the complaint, presented the evidence that contradicted the complaint, and objectively evaluated the employee’s responses.

Following the conclusion of the investigation, Elizabeth discussed possible courses of action with Axis relating to the future employment of the employee at issue and the risks and benefits of each possible course. Elizabeth recommended a solution that fit Axis’s workforce culture and business needs. Elizabeth worked closely with Axis’s Human Resources Director to implement the solution.

Clients can engage Gateway Counsel to train managers, human resource professionals, or an entire workforce on a variety of employment law issues.  Using the same customized, pragmatic approach Elizabeth brings to legal advice, Elizabeth builds trainings for each client that are uniquely designed to increase awareness and compliance, address client-specific concerns, and enhance workplace culture.

For example, when Colorado implemented the new Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, many Colorado businesses had concerns about how to comply and whether increased pay transparency would disrupt operations and negatively impact employee morale.  Elizabeth worked closely with clients to review hiring practices, internal and external job posting content and processes, and pay practices, including promotions.  She also designed and conducted webinars to train managers and human resource professionals on the new requirements and how to build a workforce culture that supports pay transparency.  Her pay transparency trainings were designed to meet the unique needs of each client, in light of the intended audience, industry, and workplace culture, and included:

  • an overview of best practices, including well-crafted job descriptions, external and internal job posting processes, and pay audits;
  • role-play around common compliance concerns in the interview process (including compensation discussions) and how to respond to an employee’s inquiry about perceived pay disparities; and
  • how to leverage compliance with pay transparency laws to create a workforce culture where employees feel valued because they understand how their compensation is determined and how to pursue opportunities for advancement.

Client, “Axis, Inc.,” sought assistance when it agreed to acquire the assets of a Colorado business and prepared to onboard 250 new Colorado employees. Elizabeth worked with the acquisition team representing Axis to perform due diligence on the employment practices of the target, then worked with Axis’ human resources director to ensure that Axis had onboarding processes in place and ready to mobilize at closing, utilizing best practices and advancing Axis’ goals of retaining top talent, implementing restrictive covenant agreements to protect its trade secrets, and complying with Colorado’s recent paid sick leave, family leave, pay transparency, and non-compete laws.

For Axis, this meant revising its existing employment agreement to incorporate restrictive covenants that comply with current Colorado law, working with Axis’ human resources team as they reviewed and updated job descriptions and compensation metrics across the target’s workforce, drafting a supplement to Axis’s employee handbook for Colorado employees to reflect new paid leave policies that complied with Colorado law but also aligned with pre-existing paid leave policies of Axis, and preparing a Notice of Restrictive Covenants and training the Axis human resources team on use and delivery of the Notice as required by current Colorado law.

Other ways that Elizabeth has assisted clients with their onboarding processes include:

• consultation about job application, interview and posting practices;
• advice about how to limit liability when hiring employees subject to restrictive covenants;
• drafting offer letter templates;
• evaluation of independent contractor status of worker; and
• analysis of exempt/non-exempt status and other wage issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Colorado Wage Act.

Many clients today face complaints of workplace bullying. For example, one client called Elizabeth when a manager complained that her supervisor, an executive of the company and high-performing employee, was bullying her. The executive worked remotely from another state and had little to no physical contact with the manager. What risk did that situation pose, the client asked, and what response is appropriate?

Elizabeth worked with the client to educate it about the difference between illegal workplace harassment and workplace bullying, and the ways that bullying and harassment can occur even between remote workers. They discussed reasons that bullying, even when not rising to the level of illegal harassment, should not be tolerated. They also discussed ways to educate the executive about new leadership behaviors. Elizabeth counseled the client while the client conducted its own internal investigation into the complaint, and Elizabeth provided information about disciplinary options that could be considered if the complaint was substantiated.

To reduce workplace behaviors that lower employee retention and could lead to harassment and discrimination claims in the future, the client decided to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying. Elizabeth drafted an amendment to the client’s employee handbook describing and prohibiting workplace bullying and encouraging employees to report instances of bullying to human resources. She also trained human resources personnel to respond to bullying complaints.

Clients often have questions about how to comply with wage and hour laws under federal and state law. Elizabeth has helped many clients with wage and hour compliance issues. For example, Elizabeth frequently works with clients to determine whether various positions are exempt from overtime, whether a worker can (or should) be classified as an independent contractor, and to develop policies around issues like rest breaks and meal periods, overtime work, and sleep time compensation. She has also represented clients in response to wage claims filed with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and asserted in litigation, investigating the validity of overtime and misclassification claims and helping the client to refine policies and practices to reduce the risk of future claims.