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Involuntary Terminations: Colorado

Involuntary Terminations requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Stuart R. Buttrick, Susan W. Kline and Mary L. Will, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


  • In Colorado, the at-will relationship between employers and employees may be modified by contractual provisions, or by written or verbal statements which can create an express or implied contract or an enforceable promise that requires the employer to have just cause to terminate an employee's employment. See Termination for Cause.
  • An individual discharged for gross misconduct is disqualified from receipt of unemployment benefits for a specific period of time. Unemployment benefits may also be denied, reduced, or deferred if an individual's termination was due to certain reasons, such as insubordination, among others. See Reduction or Denial of Unemployment Benefits.
  • Employers may not terminate employees due to the employee's lawful activities that occur off the employer's premises during non-working hours. However, there are limited exceptions as provided in detail below. See Lawful Off-Duty Activities.
  • Most private employers may not terminate employees due to the employee's discussion of wages. See Protection for Wage Discussions.
  • Colorado's whistleblower's statute applies only to state agencies and private enterprises which contract with state agencies. See Anti-Retaliation and Whistleblower Protections.