Legal Assistance & Workplace Issues
Ariel B. DeFazio (Sweeney & Bechtold, LLC) specializes in Employee Protection/Labor Law
Sweeney & Bechtold, LLC
650 S. Cherry St., Suite 700 • Denver, CO 80246
Ariel DeFazio gave a lecture on employment law to COCA survivors. You can find her presentation on our website. The topics include:
Should I disclose my diagnosis at work?
Can I take time off for treatment and expect to have my job waiting for me?
If I need to take unpaid leave, are there other available sources of income to help bridge the gap financially?
Can I keep working during chemo?
What if I have a recurrence and need additional treatment in the future?
Are my friends and family protected if they need to take time off to care for me?
Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD)
1560 Broadway, Suite 825, Denver, CO 80202
303.894.2997 or 1.800.886.7675
The CCRD enforces the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the same bases as federal law, including disability, in addition to sexual orientation (including transgender status) and familial status. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act applies to all Colorado employers other than religious organizations or associations. An employee or job applicant in Colorado must file a charge of discrimination with the CCRD within 180 days of the discriminatory action, such as being demoted, disciplined, or fired.
Colorado Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association (PELA)
PELA is an organization made up of Colorado attorneys who represent employees, as opposed to employers, in at least 75% of their cases. If you are concerned about how you are being treated by your employer or just have questions about your rights as an employee, you can use PELA’s Find a Lawyer Search to identify one or more private attorneys to consult with.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
COBRA gives employees and their families the right to continue group health benefits provided by an employer’s group health plan “under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.” You can learn more about COBRA by contacting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Under HIPAA, you are entitled to certain rights over your health information. If you have questions about these rights or would like to report a potential violation of HIPAA, contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR also handles civil rights complaints, i.e., if you feel a health provider discriminated against you based on your race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, or religion.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Colorado: 303 E. 17th Avenue, Suite 410, Denver, CO 80203
A woman with a current diagnosis of ovarian cancer or a record of having such a diagnosis is entitled to certain protections under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against employees and job applicants because of a number of protected classes, like race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), genetic information, or, in the case of the ADA, disability (like ovarian cancer). The federal laws enforced by the EEOC apply to employers with 15 or more employees (20 or more in cases of age discrimination). An employee or job applicant in Colorado must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory action, such as being demoted, disciplined, or fired.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
National (general inquiries): 1.866.487.9243
National (FMLA specific): 1.866.487.9243
Colorado District Office: 720.264.3250
The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take twelve workweeks of leave – consecutively or on an intermittent basis – in a 12-month period because they are unable to work due to their own serious health condition or to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if she has worked for an employer for 12 months (need not be consecutive), worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave (different rules apply to airline flight crew members), and works at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is charged with enforcing the FMLA and its website has numerous resources, including FMLA forms and fact sheets. You can also contact the WHD to report potential violations of the FMLA.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
JAN, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, provides free confidential technical assistance about job accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Among other things on JAN’s website, you can find: ideas for accommodations for employees with a range of disabilities, including cancer; template letters to employers requesting reasonable accommodations under the ADA; and countless other resources about employees’ rights under the ADA. JAN is also available to answer questions via phone and a live online chat.
Denver Legal Night
The Denver Legal Night is an open house where volunteer attorneys provide legal and referral information to people who cannot afford legal services about a number of topics, including immigration, family, criminal, housing, consumer and bankruptcy, and employment. Legal consultations are currently being offered by phone on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 5:00-7:15pm. Click on the link below to register.
Colorado Division of Insurance
1560 Broadway, Suite 850, Denver, CO 80202
“Contact if you need information or have questions about your policy, your rights and protections, or about a potential agent or insurer.”
Patient Advocate Foundation
“Patient Advocate Foundation offers assistance to patients with specific issues they are facing with their insurer, employer and/or creditor regarding insurance, job retention and/or debt crisis matters relative to their diagnosis of life threatening or debilitating diseases.”
Cancer and Careers
“What do you need to know about your rights in the workplace? How do you navigate the health insurance maze? How can you maximize job security/benefits and minimize stress when dealing with the avalanche of paperwork and red tape that comes with a cancer diagnosis? Cancer and Careers empowers and educates people with cancer to thrive in their workplace by providing expert advice, interactive tools and educational events.”
“Triage Cancer helps survivors, caregivers, health care professionals, and advocates to navigate cancer survivorship though educational events, a national Speakers Bureau, and online tools and resources.”