Wage theft occurs in a variety of forms and it costs workers billions of dollars a year. It typically means the right wages haven’t been paid for hours worked.
This could be failure to pay the minimum wage which currently stands at $12 in Colorado, failing to pay for overtime which is time spent working over 40 hours, failing to pay for time a worker spends preparing his/her work space or failing to pay vacation/sick pay.
All Colorado employees have the right to file a wage theft claim when their employers fail to pay them the wages or benefits they are owed.
If a Colorado employee is covered by both federal and Colorado state minimum wage laws, the employer is required to pay the higher of the minimum wages.
As of 2020, the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which is less than the current Colorado state minimum wage of $12.00. Employers have to pay $12 per hour.
What You Need to Know Before You File a Wage Theft Claim
Colorado Wage Act
The Colorado Wage Act (C.R.S. 8-4-101 et seq.) has a requirement that all Colorado employers must pay their employees the wages they have earned and in a timely manner. The Wage Act addresses deductions from wages, vacation, commissions, bonuses, final pay, pay periods and paydays, and pay statements.
Wages as defined by the Colorado Wage act as all earned, vested, and determinable amounts for labor or service undertaken by employees, regardless of how they are calculated such as by time, task, piece or commission.
Any Bonuses or commissions earned in relation to the terms of any agreement are wages. Vacation pay earned in relation to the terms of any agreement is classified as wages.
Pay periods and pay days under the Colorado Wage Act
- A pay period can be no greater than a calendar month or 30 day periods depending which is greater,
- Paydays must take place no later than 10 days after the closing of each pay period.
At least once a month or when the payment of wages is made the employer must provide each employee with an itemized pay statement provided in writing which shows the following:
- Employee name;
- Name and address of employer;
- Gross and net wages;
- The pay period in exact dates;
- Any deductions.
If your employer has failed to comply with the rules of the Colorado Wage Act and you have been a victim of wage theft, you can file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics which is responsible for investigating violations of Colorado’s wage and hour law.
You can download a complaint form from its website. The wage theft complaint must be filed within two years of the wage theft taking place. It may be helpful to consult with an experienced professional prior to filing your claim.
How to Report Wage Theft
There are several ways of filing a wage theft claim. One is filing a complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) as mentioned above and a second is filing a lawsuit in court. Under Colorado law, employees can file a private lawsuit to recover unpaid wages fees and court costs.
If you choose to file a complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, you must offer an explanation of the wage theft claim which is clearly shows that you the employee is eligible for wages.
You must provide enough evidence to show the violation of Colorado wage and hour laws and include an estimate of the wage theft which is due using your own calculation.
Typically, you must show the proof before the Division will forward a Notice of Complaint to your employer.
Once the complaint has been sent, your employer has to be able to furnish proof that you are not entitled to the wages you claim are wage theft.
If your employer does not meet its burden of proof, or doesn’t even bother to reply, the Division might award the wages owed and/or levy penalties based on your evidence, and set fines against your employer.
If you are not comfortable filing your own complaint, or you want to go straight to court, talk to an experienced Colorado wage and hour lawyer about representing you.
Fill out a Free Evaluation Form
If you think you have been subject to wage theft by your employer, you should fill out the free evaluation form available below.