Navigating Colorado’s Minimum Wage Laws- A Legal Perspective

In Colorado, the minimum wage is more than a number on a paycheck. It represents fair compensation for services rendered by workers in line with inflation and rising living costs. Unfortunately, many local and state employers fail to adhere to federal and Colorado Labor Laws, significantly increasing wage and hour lawsuits.

In this post, we’ll share a quick guide to Colorado minimum wage in 2023 and suing your employer for wage and hour violations. The Bourassa Law Group has a capable team of wage and hour attorneys Colorado at your service to ensure you get full compensation for owed wages.

Colorado Wage Laws

The Colorado Wage Act or Law (C.R.S. 8-4-101 et seq.) mandates local and statewide employers to fully compensate their employees for their work on time. The state recognizes refusal to pay hourly wages or overtime as a felony offense or wage theft if the amount exceeds $2,000.

Like all U.S. states, Colorado understands the importance of minimum wage standards. Hence, this law ensures workers receive fair compensation for their labor and maintain their financial well-being. It also allows wage and hour violation victims to pursue legal action against their employers to get compensation for damages, including (but not limited to):

  • Unpaid wages
  • Liquidated damages
  • Back pay
  • Emotional distress
  • Reinstatement
  • Attorney fees and legal costs, etc.

Colorado Minimum Wage 2023

For 2023, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. In contrast, Colorado’s minimum wage is $13.65 for most employees. For tipped employees, employers can offset no more than $3.02 per hour in tip income, taking their minimum wage to $10.63. Moreover, students and workers under 20 can be paid 85% of the minimum wage for 90 consecutive calendar days before receiving full pay.

Many cities in Colorado have even higher minimum wages. For instance, Denver has a minimum wage of $17.29. Similarly, Aspen’s and Colorado Spring’s minimum pay rate is $12.32 per hour. These wages are linked to local, state, and federal Consumer Price Index and are subject to annual adjustment due to inflation and rising living costs.

Historical Data of Minimum Wages in Colorado

Colorado’s minimum wage has changed over the last two decades. The table below shows the changes in rates per hour since 2000:

YearMinimum Wage
Please note that this data is for Colorado and certain city jurisdictions like Denver, Vail, Boulder, others may be higher wages depending on law. Federal is the floor – State Law can be higher than federal but not lower, and cities can be higher than all of those is a simple way to consider this. Often someone on the border of a higher city wage might consider employment in that jurisdiction to get a higher minimum wage.

Understanding Unpaid Wages and Overtime Violations in Colorado

Colorado workers are vulnerable to payment delays and unpaid overtime like most state employees. Although the state has increased the minimum wage over the last two decades, many employers fail to comply with labor laws, affecting workers’ financial stability.

However, before you hire a Colorado wage and hour attorney, you must understand wage and hour violations to determine if they apply to your circumstances or situation:

1.      Unpaid Wages

Unpaid wages can take multiple forms. For instance, an employer could fail to pay you the minimum wage after recruitment. Meanwhile, others could fail to pay you on time or make improper deductions from your paycheck. Some employers force workers to perform work “off the clock.”  In extreme cases, employers can retaliate against workers demanding that they be paid what they are legally entitled to and terminate their employment illegally. You can pursue legal action for any of these issues.

2.      Unpaid Overtime

Colorado Labor Laws also mandate employers to pay eligible employees overtime if their work hours exceed the standard 40-hour work week. However, the legal process for overtime violation claims heavily depends on your employment contract, role, and other factors. Moreover, because both Federal and Colorado state law may apply to your claim, it is important to understand the best way to proceed if you do have a potential overtime claim. Therefore, you need an experienced wage-and-hour attorney Colorado to understand your case and proceed accordingly.

How Can I Sue My Boss for Wage and Hour Violations in Colorado?

Suing your employer for wage and hour violations is a complex legal process. If you believe you’ve been a victim of unpaid wages or overtime, you must understand and assert your rights by following the steps below:

3.      Document Everything

Before filing a wage and hour claim, you should gather relevant information and documents for evidence. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Time and attendance records
  • Pay stubs
  • Emails, calls, or any form of communication with your employer regarding wages and overtime
  • Surveillance footage
  • Payroll records
  • Work schedules
  • Employment contract
  • Employee handbooks
  • Witness statements, etc.

4.      Consult a Colorado Employment Lawyer

Next, consult an experienced employment attorney Colorado specializing in wage and hour claims. They will assess your case and gather more evidence before proceeding further. Most attorneys will recommend making a written demand for wages owed. If you are not paid, you can file a wage and hour lawsuit against your employer for maximum compensation for your unpaid wages, including penalties, attorney’s fees, and costs.

Alternatively, employees may file a complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), who can assist in resolving the issue.

5.      File a Wage and Hour Lawsuit

If you file a lawsuit, your attorney will draft and file the necessary paperwork in the appropriate court. The documents outline your employment details, complaints, specific wage and hour violations, and compensation demands (back pay, reinstatement, etc.). Sometimes wage claims are filed as class actions on behalf of other employees who have been similarly treated by the employer; you and your attorney can decide whether that is the best course of action for your particular claim.

6.      Discover, Negotiation, and Settlement

A typical lawsuit begins with the discovery phase, in which both parties exchange evidence and witness testimonies. Your employer’s attorney may offer a settlement for a quicker resolution, especially if your evidence is solid. You and your attorney can determine if the offer meets your compensation requirements.

7.      Trial & Verdict

If you’re unsatisfied with the settlement offer, you can take your case to trial, where both parties will present arguments, evidence, and witnesses before a judge or jury who will pass a verdict in either party’s favor. If you win the case, you’ll be rewarded with the compensation amount. Moreover, the court will order your employer to change their wage and hour practices and even penalize them.

Contact a Wage and Hour Attorney Colorado Right Away!

Colorado’s minimum wage laws exist to ensure employers compensate workers for their work fairly and timely. Yet many employers continue to violate wage and hour laws, impacting employees’ financial well-being already living on minimum wage.

If you are in a similar situation, contact the Bourassa Law Group for a free consultation at 800-870-8910. Our capable wage and hour attorneys Colorado will discuss your case and use their expertise and resources to obtain the compensation you deserve.  

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