As a manager, I received this email from my store manager that came from the district manager.

Team, you cannot call the police without my approval, if I am not available it would fall to (Blank) or (Blank). This is not optional.

I need every store manager to review this with their team today. All Managers need to know this. Your night crew leaders need to know this policy, as well.

Is this instruction legally valid? Can I legally ignore it?

  • 1
    What jurisdiction is this?
    – D M
    Mar 24, 2019 at 21:36
  • 4
    Possible duplicate of Is it ever legal for a company to instruct employees not to call 911?
    – D M
    Mar 24, 2019 at 21:51
  • 1
    @DM Seems to be different; that post was about not calling 911 when a company has internal security (that would likely respond much quicker).
    – gnasher729
    Mar 24, 2019 at 22:17
  • 1
    @DM is right, what state is this for, some states are right-to-work states, like the state of Florida, were your employment can be terminated for any reason. Mar 25, 2019 at 1:52
  • 4
    I suspect they're thinking about calls to the police for the purpose of having a suspicious looking person investigated or removed. Some companies have had incidents of that sort go spectacularly wrong. Note that they don't say "911" but "the police." So it seems that medical emergencies and fire emergencies are not covered by this policy. You might want to seek clarification on that. You might also ask whether they really want you to waste time seeking authorization to call the police in case of an armed robbery or other violent crime. They probably don't but just didn't think it through.
    – phoog
    Mar 25, 2019 at 3:37

3 Answers 3


Employers in CO and at least 43 US states cannot lawfully fire an employee for reporting a crime to the police, or calling 911. It falls under the public policy exception to at-will employment.

Some examples or this are covered here. https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2001/01/art1full.pdf

Two examples of statutory text, but most will fall under case law.

California Labor Code section 1102.5(b), an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who discloses information to a law enforcement agency where the employee has a reasonable cause to believe the information discloses a violation of federal or state law.

Montana Code 39-2-904. Elements of wrongful discharge -- presumptive probationary period. (1) A discharge is wrongful only if: (a) it was in retaliation for the employee's refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy;

Collier v. Superior Court (MCA, Inc.) (1991)

In this case we conclude that an employee who is terminated in retaliation for reporting to his or her employer reasonably suspected [228 Cal. App. 3d 1120] illegal conduct by other employees that harms the public as well as the employer, has a cause of action for wrongful discharge

Palmateer v.International Harvester Company

In this case, Ray Palmateer alleged that he was fired from his job with International Harvester after he provided information to local law enforcement authorities about potential criminal acts by a coworker and indicated that he would assist in any criminal investigation and subsequent trial. In this case, nothing in the Illinois Constitution or statutes required or permitted an employee to report potential criminal activity by a coworker. However, the court found that public policy favored citizen crime fighters and the exposure of criminal activity. Thus, Palmateer brought an actionable claim for retaliatory discharge

  • 2
    Can you edit the answer to add some sort of reference to support this assertion? It seems plausible, but how do we know it's correct?
    – phoog
    Aug 29, 2020 at 17:08

If you ever think about calling an emergency number: Emergency numbers are for emergencies, meaning that the number should be called as quick as possible. So there is no time to contact the district manager and ask him. When your life or health is at immediate risk, or the life or health of another person is at immediate risk, caused by some criminal activity, then you call an emergency number.

There is the risk that your district manager will retaliate against you. If your health was at risk, your health is more important than your job. If my health was at risk by some criminal in your store, and you saved me by calling the police, and your district manager wants to cause you trouble, I'll rip his head off (figuratively speaking). If any customer gets hurt because of this policy, the company is in trouble.

In cases where the only victim is the company (for example a shoplifter causing no harm other than taking the company's property), it's up to the company to decide if police should be called. If others are the victims, it's not up to the district manager.

  • 8
    They didn't say don't call the ambulance or the fire department, just don't call the police. I suspect it's to do with well-publicized cases of businesses calling the police on people without justification, especially when the people are not actually up to no good.
    – phoog
    Mar 25, 2019 at 3:40
  • 1
    @Nij This answer at least implicitly says that such a restriction is not valid if an emergency threatens the life or health of individuals, such that calling the police would be the prudent and reasonable response. Mar 25, 2019 at 16:10
  • It doesn't even imply that. It just says they should make the call anyway and resist anything penalising them for it.
    – user4657
    Mar 25, 2019 at 18:21
  • This really isn't a legal answer, this is a moral answer. Apr 17, 2019 at 21:13
  • @DavidSiegel justifying the quality of an answer with "This answer at least" doesn't follow Law.SE guidelines to what is a low-quality answer, we aren't meant to have to cherry pick or infer the message of an answer. Apr 17, 2019 at 21:35

Yes, your manager can do this.

Colorado is a "employment-at-will" state.

employment-at-will means that any employer or employee may terminate employment at any time without giving any reason or a notice

There are a couple of reasons for wrongful termination in Colorado:

  • Discriminatory Firing

    You cannot be fired on the bases of race, gender, religion, age, pregnancy, or disability.

  • Breach Of contract

    An employee that has an employment contract (which may be written, oral, or implied) is no longer employment-at-will.

  • Wage and Hour Issues

    it's illegal to fire an employee for filing a complaint with the state's wage board

  • Time Off Work

    You cannot be fired for taking time off in regards to:

    1. Military leave
    2. Jury Duty
    3. Voting
    4. family, and medical leave

There is a legal theory that has been used in Illinois, that states calling the police is protected under the whistleblowing act, but this theory has never been tested in Colorado.

It could be argued under Colorado's whistleblowing laws that:

the employer was aware or reasonably should have been aware that the employee's refusal to comply with the order or directive was based on the employee's reasonable belief that the action ordered was illegal, contrary to clearly expressed statutory policy relating to the employee's duty as a citizen, or violative of the employee's legal right or privilege as a worker.

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