Colorado Wage Claims – statute of limitations

Posted by: May 30, 2018By Brian Stutheit

On March 5, 2018  The Colorado Supreme Court answered a question of law from the U.S. District Court for the District
of Colorado regarding how far back in time a terminated employee’s unpaid wage claims can reach under the Colorado Wage Claim Act,
CRS §§ 8-4-101 to -123. The Court held that, under the plain language of  the Wage Claim Act, a terminated employee may seek any wages or
compensation that were unpaid at the time of termination; however, the right to seek such wages or compensation is subject to the statute
of limitations found in CRS § 8-4-122. That statute of limitations begins to run when the wages or compensation first become due and
payable and it limits a terminated employee to claims for the two years (three for willful violations) immediately preceding termination. The Supreme Court decision is Hernandez v. Ray Domenico Farms, Inc.

Willful withholding does not require a showing of malice or similar bad motivation, rather, the person claiming wages needs only to demonstrate that compensation is knowingly withheld without good cause. Whether there is a willful failure to pay wages is important in other ways in addition to the statute of limitations.  If an employee can prove the failure to pay was willful, penalties on the employer increase by 50%.