'Safer-at-Home' order does not allow employers to discharge folks 65 and older

Elderly man
Posted at 4:59 AM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 18:35:26-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — COVID-19 has impacted us all in different ways. But one thing is certain, it will be our mission here at news 5 to answer your questions - and we will work alongside you as we all rebound.

We are addressing one viewer's question about whether he can be allowed to return to work, and shedding light on what everyone should know.

The viewer, who wants to remain anonymous, contacted us because his employer put him on temporary leave citing his age.

He falls within the 65 and older age group, and he was under the impression his company was required to send him home under the Safer-at-Home order. But we confirmed this is not the case.

Basically, while the Safer-at-Home order says vulnerable populations should stay home, unless they need medical care or other essential activities, an employer cannot make this decision for them.

The order makes it clear, it's illegal to discriminate against anyone based on age, disability, or pregnancy.

Meanwhile, the gentleman who reached out to us says he feels safe to go back to work, and wishes he had the chance to do so.

"I know I'm in that age group, the vulnerable 65 and older," he said, "but I feel like I'm still in pretty good physical shape and I would just like to return to a job that I enjoy."

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says most issues like this can be resolved if employees speak one-on-one with their employers.

But, if you believe you have been discriminated against or not accommodated properly, you should contact the Colorado Civil Rights Division or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will look into your case and see what can be done to eliminate any potential discriminatory practices.

We reached out to this gentleman's employer, who won't be identified to protect his privacy, and they did not clarify whether they were sending at-risk individuals home, saying they are abiding by current safer-at-home guidelines.

At this point, the man who contacted us is not sure when he will be allowed to return but he plans to wait it out and he's in talks with his employer waiting for more updates. He does, however, hope others will learn from his experience.

If you want to learn more about state guidelines in response to COVID-19, you can find those here.