Claims Under The Colorado Wage Act Not Waivable
This guide discusses the limitations on an employee waiving claims against his or her employer for unpaid wages under the Colorado Wage Act.
The Colorado Wage ActThe Colorado Wage Act “provides a clear, comprehensive statutory scheme designed to require employers to pay wages earned by their employees in a timely manner.” Lambdin v. Dist. Ct. in the 18th Judicial Dist., 903 P.2d 1126, 1129 (Colo. 1995). It also includes deadlines for payment of wages when an employee separates from an employer and sets forth recourse and monetary penalties that apply when an employer fails to meet the associated payment deadlines. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-4-101, et. seq.
Claims Under The Colorado Wage Act Are Not WaivableClaims under the Colorado Wage Act are not waivable. As stated in the Act, “[a]ny agreement, written or oral, by any employee purporting to waive or to modify such employee's rights in violation of this article shall be void.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-4-121. This means that a term in an agreement between an employer and employee that requires an employee to forego any claims under the Colorado Wage Act is not enforceable. This provision also means that any agreement between an employer and employee that changes an employee’s rights under the Colorado Wage Act is invalid.
For example, the Colorado Supreme Court held that this provision of the Colorado Wage Act voids any arbitration agreement as applied to claims under the Act. Lambdin v. Dist. Ct. in the 18th Judicial Dist., 903 P.2d 1126, 1130 (Colo. 1995). As the Court explained, “[t]he plain language of the statute establishes that the General Assembly intended Colorado employees to be able to recover past due wages by filing a civil action in the Colorado courts.” Id. (citing Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-4-123). Accordingly, any arbitration agreement entered into between an employer and an employee does not prevent the employee from proceeding with his or her claims in court, as opposed to arbitration. See id.
Other Sources Of ProtectionIn addition to the Colorado Wage Act, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may also provide legal protections for employees within Colorado who have not been paid minimum wage or earned wages. There may also be common law breach of contract protections. Similar to claims under the Colorado Wage Act, claims under the FLSA may not be waived. Brooklyn Savings Bank v. O’Neil, 324 U.S. 697 (1945).
Do You Have A Claim Under The Colorado Wage Act?The Wick Law Office represents public and private employees in Colorado in claims of unpaid wages and associated compensation. Please contact us for more information about such claims or to discuss your specific situation.