Colorado Wage and Hour Claim Attorney

You work hard to earn a living. You show up on time and perform your duties to the best of your ability. In return, you expect your employer to pay you the wages that you’re entitled to, on time and without problems. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, employers inadvertently or intentionally shortchange their employees when it comes to wages. Overtime work isn’t credited, paydays are late or missed altogether, and minimum wage standards aren’t met.

When wages are underpaid, late, or unpaid, it’s the affected employee who suffers. Bills go unpaid. Rent is overdue. Sometimes, even everyday necessities become unaffordable. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and thanks to Colorado law, in many cases it’s not legal.

Wage and Hour Laws in Colorado

In general, there are three separate bodies of law that govern wages and hours worked in Colorado:

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is a federal law governing minimum wages, overtime, and other issues. The FLSA applies to employees working in both the private and public sectors, but not to independent contractors.
  • The Colorado Wage Act, or CWA, is a state law requiring employers to pay their employees promptly. The law deals with deductions from wages, vacation, commissions, bonuses, final pay, pay periods, paydays, and pay statements. The CWA only applies to employees working in the private sector, but again, not to independent contractors.
  • The Colorado Minimum Wage Order, or CWO, is a state law governing minimum wages, hours, overtime, and other issues. The CWO only applies to employees working in the retail and service, commercial support, food and beverage, and health and medical industries. Like the FLSA and CWA, the CWO does not apply to independent contractors. It should also be noted that under Section 15 of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution, if an employee is covered by both federal and Colorado minimum wage laws, an employer must pay the higher minimum wage.

Colorado Wage and Hour Laws – Coverage and Exemptions

In general,  coverage of Colorado’s wage and hour laws depends on the nature of the employment in question, as well as the nature of the wage and hour dispute between the employee and employer. For example, a person employed in the public sector in a position with a local, state, or federal governmental entity would be covered by the FLSA, but not the CWA or the CWO.

Likewise, a person in private sector employment that is outside of the four industries covered by the CWO would also be covered by the FLSA when it comes to minimum wage and overtime claims. However, a claim for delayed payment of wages, deductions from payroll, or final payment of wages following termination would be covered by the CWA.

Finally, a person in the private sector working in one of the four industries covered by the CWO could rely on that law to resolve issues involving minimum wage, hours worked, and overtime. Once again, any claim involving delayed payroll, deductions from payroll, or final payment of wages following termination would be covered by the CWA.

Each of the wage and hour laws at work in Colorado specifically exempt certain types of workers from coverage. For example, both the FLSA and the CWO have a “white collar” exemption for certain executive, professional, and administrative employees who meet certain criteria. If these criteria are met, an employer is not required to pay the exempt employee overtime or pay the employee the applicable minimum wage for each hour worked.

The criteria necessary to hold a white collar employee exempt from the FLSO and CWO are:

  • Salary Level – The employee must make a minimum of $455 per week;
  • Salary Basis – Each pay period the employee must receive this money as a predetermined amount, not dependent on hours worked; and
  • Job Duties – The employee must primarily perform executive, professional, or administrative job duties, as follows:
    • An executive must:
      • Manage a company or enterprise or a subdivision of a company or enterprise;
      • Supervise two or more employees; and
      • Have the authority to hire, fire, or promote employees.
    • A professional must:
      • Perform work requiring advanced intellectual knowledge that requires judgment and discretion;
      • The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and
      • Must be acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
    • An administrator must:
      • Perform office work or non-manual labor that is directly related to the management or basic operations of an employer; and
      • Exercise discretion and independent judgment when it comes to matters of significance.

All of Colorado’s wage and hour laws also specifically exempt independent contractors. However, the definition of an independent contractor is different, depending on which body of law is being applied.

The FLSA doesn’t contain a specific definition of what constitutes an independent contractor. Therefore, it has been left to the courts to determine who is and isn’t an independent contractor.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals uses six factors to determine employee status:

  1. The degree of control the alleged employer retains over the worker;
  2. The worker’s opportunity for profit and loss;
  3. The worker’s investment in his or her supposed business;
  4. How long the working relationship has existed;
  5. The skill necessary to perform the work in question; and
  6. How integral the work is to the alleged employer’s business.

No one factor is considered dispositive, and each factor is considered in the light of the total circumstances surrounding the matter.

Under the CWA and CWO, the Colorado Division of Labor looks at three factors to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor:

  1. Whether the business has the right to control how the work is performed;
  2. Whether the business has the right to control the finances of the worker; and
  3. The relationship between the alleged employer and the worker.

In general, under the CWA and the CWO, an employer is someone who controls the result, and an independent contractor is someone who controls how that result gets accomplished.

Contact An Experienced Denver Employment Law Attorney Today

Colorado wage and hour law is complex and employers will often make every effort to fight the charges made against them. At Marathon Law, LLC, we use our knowledge of wage and hour law and our experience in these cases to get the results that our clients deserve. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation at 303-704-1222, or via our website contact page.