Colorado Legislature Passes Wage Protection Act

Another bill headed to Governor Hickenlooper’s desk gives the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) authority to investigate and prosecute wage claims brought by workers against their employers. This bill, when signed into law, will apply to wages earned after January 1, 2015. 

The Wage Protection Act (S.B. 14-005) allows the CDLE to receive wage complaints and adjudicate claims for unpaid wages up to $7,500. Employees may choose to avail themselves of the CDLE’s administrative complaint system or take the matter to court for resolution. 

The administrative complaint process will be handled by the CDLE’s Division of Labor. The CDLE will provide an initial decision to the parties on the wage complaint. Either party dissatisfied with the decision may appeal to a hearing officer within 35 days of the decision. An appeal from the hearing officer’s decision would proceed to district court. 

The bill also allows the CDLE to fine employers up to $7,500 for failing to retain itemized employee pay statements for three years. The bill provides some practical guidance to employers. For example, if an employee resigns and does not return to the worksite to collect his or her final paycheck, the bill instructs the employer to mail the final check to the employee’s last-known mailing address after 60 days. 

This bill could increase the number of wage claims made by current and former employees.  Therefore, employers should review their pay practices to ensure they comply with federal and state law.