Wage And Hour Claim Investigations In Colorado

by | Jan 25, 2024 | Colorado Employment Law Blog

The Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics (“Division”) helps employees working in Colorado with the recovery of earned wages not paid in accordance with the Colorado Wage Act and/or Colorado Wage Order.  Wages include all forms of compensation – including hourly pay, salary, bonuses and commissions. An employee may initiate this process by filing a Wage Complaint Form for claims up to Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500.00). The Division will not investigate individual claims with a claim value greater than Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500.00). 


Investigating Wage Complaints: Protecting Colorado Workers’ Rights

For covered claims, the Division will investigate the complaint and determine if the Colorado wage and hour laws have been violated. After receiving the Wage Complaint form, the Division may ask additional questions to the employee-claimant.  If there is sufficient evidence that wages are owed, the Division will send the employer a Notice of Complaint (“NOC”) with an explanation of the allegations, the relevant law, and a copy of the wage complaint and supporting documents.  The employer will be given a chance to respond and the Division may ask the claimant for follow-up information. Based upon all information received, the Division will issue either: (a) a Citation and Notice of Assessment finding violations of Colorado wage law(s), or (b) a Notice of Compliance if no violation is found. 


Penalties and Fines: Consequences for Employers Who Fail to Pay Earned Compensation

Employers who fail to timely pay earned compensation to an employee will likely be subject to penalties and fines.  More specifically, if wages are not paid within fourteen (14) days of a valid written demand or receipt of a NOC, the employer will owe automatic penalties to the employee.  The employee may be eligible for additional penalties based on a showing of a “willful” failure to pay.  The automatic penalty is two (2) times the amount owed and a willfulness penalty is three (3) times the amount owed.  A willful violation is shown by evidence of a knowing or reckless violation of the law. 

The Division may also order the employer to pay fines for not following the law, including fines for:

  • Failure to pay wages: up to $50 per day for each day wages were not paid.  This fine, however, may be less or even waived for good-faith employer efforts to comply, or increased if evidence shows bad faith on the part of the employer.
  • Failure to respond to a Complaint or other Division Notice: $250 per non-response;
  • Failure to provide pay statements upon request in response to an NOC: $250 per month without a pay statement. 

After sixty (60) days of non-payment, fines and penalties increase.

The Division may also award an employee-claimant recovery of (a) certain costs of their claim and (b) attorney fees if the claimant won over $5,000 in wages and was represented by an attorney.


Appeal Rights for Determinations by the Division

Parties may appeal Division wage determinations by filing an appeal, which must be received by the Division within thirty-five (35) days of the Division determination.

After receiving a timely appeal, the Division will send the parties an appeal record (all documents in the claim), with either a Notice of Hearing — with the hearing date, time, participation instructions (phone or video method, how to present evidence, etc.) — or an explanation of why a hearing is not necessary. Usually, filing an appeal will not extend payment deadlines in the Notice of Assessment.   After a hearing, the Division will issue a Hearing Officer decision. A party may ask for judicial review of the decision by filing in the appropriate Colorado district court within 35 days of the Hearing Officer decision.


Enforcing Employer Compliance: Consequences of Late Payment

If an employer does not pay within sixty (60) days after a determination, the Division will impose increased fines and penalties, and may also take other steps to enforce compliance, such as filing a certified copy of the determination in court, making the Division’s determination an official court judgment, and/or issuing orders to freeze employer assets.


Enforcing Wage Laws in Colorado: Protecting Employees and Holding Employers Accountable

In summary, the Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics enforces wage and hour laws to protect employees in Colorado. Employees can initiate claims for unpaid wages up to $7,500, and the Division will conduct an investigation into the complaints. Employers found to be in violation of wage laws are subject to penalties, fines, and additional sanctions, with increased penalties for willful violations. Non-payment beyond sixty days can result in escalated fines, imposition of court judgments, and even frozen assets.. 

Contact Baird Quinn, LLC today for assistance with wage and hour matters, including matters under the Colorado Wage Act.