The Colorado Wage Act and Colorado Minimum Wage Order Number 35 (“Wage Order Number 35”) provide employees with a number of protections relating to wage and hour issues. This guide provides an overview of those protections.
Wage Order Number 35 became effective on January 1, 2019. It requires employers to pay non-exempt employees a minimum wage of $11.10 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees is $8.08 per hour. However, if the combination of the minimum wage and tips earned by the tipped employee do not equal or exceed the minimum wage ($11.10), then the employer must pay the difference.
In Colorado, employees who are not exempt from the Wage Order Number 35 receive time and one-half of the regular rate of pay for any work in excess of 40 hours per workweek, 12 hours per workday, or 12 consecutive work hours.
In most circumstances, employees are entitled to an uninterrupted and *duty free* meal period of at least 30 minutes when the work shift exceeds 5 consecutive hours of work. Additionally, employers are generally required to compensate employees for a 10-minute rest period for every 4 hours of work without reducing the employee*s wages.
Employers may require employees to share or allocate tips and gratuities. However, if the employer requires tipped employees to share tips with employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips, such as managers, cooks, and dishwashers, those tips do not count toward the minimum wage.
Payment upon Termination of Employment
Generally, when an employer terminates an employee, wages and compensation that are earned, vested, determinable, and unpaid are due and payable immediately. This means that when an employee is terminated, he or she should receive payment for wages and other compensation earned at the time of termination. However, where an employee voluntarily leaves employment, wages and compensation are due on the next regular payday.
Rights not Waivable
The Colorado Wage Act specifically provides that an employee cannot waive or change his or her right to file a claim under the Colorado Wage Act. Practically speaking, this means that even where an employee signs a contract with his or her employer agreeing to waive all legal claims against the employer, this waiver does not apply to any claim the employee has under the Colorado Wage Act.
If an employer refuses to pay all wages earned, the employee can make a written demand for the wages. If the employer does not postmark the employee*s earned wages within 14 days after receiving the wage demand, the employer is liable for the wages and a penalty that may meet or exceed 125% of the amount owed or up to 10 days of compensation, whichever is greater. If the employer*s violation is willful (without a good-faith legal justification), the penalty is increased by fifty percent.
Prohibition on Discrimination and Retaliation
Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for filing claims under the Colorado Wage Act.
Statute of Limitations
Actions pursuant to the Colorado Wage Act must be commenced within 2 years after the cause of action accrues, or within 3 years for a willful violation.
As with all areas of the law, wage and hour claims are fact specific and can be complex. This document does not set forth all rights or possible claims relating to wage and hour violations, nor does it address claims that may arise under federal laws addressing wage and hour issues, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Each situation is different. As such, this is not a question that can be answered without evaluating each case individually. Employment attorneys experienced in representing federal employees, such as those as The Wick Law Office, can provide advice to assist you with this determination.
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