Colorado wage claims – new law helps employees
On January 1, 2015 Colorado’s “Wage Protection Act of 2014” went into effect. The new law gives increased power to the division of labor in the department of labor and employment to force employers to pay overdue wages. The division of labor may issue a notice of complaint to the employer, and the employer must answer or it will be fined. The law also directs the division of labor to collect unpaid wages and penalties.
The new statute creates an administrative hearing process for resolution of wage disputes less than $7,500.00. The process will be less formal than going to court, and should help employees who are afraid of court or attorneys. A disadvantage is that the division of labor is allowed a long time to resolve the wage dispute – 90 days. Even after that, either side may appeal. It might prove to be quicker to file a lawsuit in small claims or county court. An advantage of the new law is that employees who ask the division of labor to collect their wages for them will not have to pay an attorney.
This law does not remove the right employees have to sue for overdue wages plus penalties. Employees should remember they must deliver a written demand for the unpaid wages to the employer within sixty days from the date of separation. Any employee or his or her designated agent who has not made a written demand for the payment within sixty days after the date of separation or who has otherwise not been available to receive payment shall not be entitled to any penalty. The demand must tell the employer where to send the wages. A provision in the new law allows an employee to direct the employer to direct deposit wages into an account chosen by the employee. It is not mandatory that the employer make the payment by direct deposit.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has enacted rules for enforcing the Wage Protection Act. To find the rules, go to: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/wagelaw