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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11290
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I've worked company years. I just turned 65 in May and my

Customer Question

I've worked for a company for 15 years. I just turned 65 in May and my employer is trying to get rid of me. He told me today to quit and they will pay out the PTO and be done with me. He said that if he fires me that I will not be able to collect unemployment. It is an extremely hostile environment and I want to handle the situation correctly.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. I am very sorry to hear this is happening. What is your question regarding this situation, exactly? How can I help you?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I just want to know if I should just quit and try to find another job at the age of 65 or go back in and get fired.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
If I do as they request and quit, I will have no income (unemployment) while trying to find another job and they will have no reason to give me an honest reference as my employer of 15 years.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Thank you.

That's a rather personal decision that I cannot make for you. However, I can provide you with helpful information so that you can make the decision well informed.

First, the general rule in Colorado is that employment is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true. So, there is nothing illegal about terminating you because your employer "wants to get rid of you," even if they don't have a good reason. You would have the affirmative burden of proving that they were terminating you because of a legally protected trait or activity (as defined above) in order to have any claim for wrongful termination.

Now, just because a termination is legal does not mean you will be denied unemployment benefits. In fact, the vast majority of terminated employees ARE eligible for benefits. You would only be denied if your employer could prove that you were terminated for reasons amounting to "misconduct," meaning conduct evidencing an intentional or reckless disregard for the interests of your employer. Things like showing up to work drunk or stealing or examples of misconduct.

Regarding the PTO issue, employers have no legal obligation to offer paid vacation at all, and so the law affords employers with discretion to determine what happens to accrued time upon separation of employment. Employers are free to adopt policies denying payment of accrued vacation, or conditioning such payment on specific circumstances (i.e. being laid off). Conversely, though, if an employer has an express policy granting the payment of accrued vacation upon separation of employment, they have a contractual duty to make that payment.

The Colorado Supreme Court has declined to determine whether an employer is liable to pay employees for accrued vacation upon separation from employment when the policy or contract is silent on the issue. See Cheyenne Mountain School District #12 v. Thompson, 861 P.2d 711 (Colo. Sup. Ct. 1993). Therefore, it's difficult to say wha

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

I got cut off there.....

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

It would be difficult to say what would happen if your employer refused to pay your PTO and your contract does not say what happens to your PTO upon separation of employment. You could certainly try filing a small claims lawsuit, though.

This is how the law treats your situation. Hopefully this provides you with the information you need in deciding what to do.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further. If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

* Disclaimer *

Just Answer is a venue for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed by these communications.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Hello again,

I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.

Very best wishes.