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10 Colorado Employee Rights You Need to Know

Posted in on August 17, 2018

Colorado has strong laws that protect employees. As an employee, you have rights when it comes to pay, your working conditions, and equal treatment compared to similarly-situated coworkers. When an employer violates your rights, you deserve justice.

You may have the right to pursue legal action to enforce your rights and win the compensation that you deserve. Here are 10 rights of employees in Colorado from our Denver employment law attorneys.

Construction Workers For Employee Rights

10 Rights of Employees in Colorado

10 rights of employees in Colorado include:

Freedom From Discrimination

In Colorado, you have the right to do your job free from discrimination. The Colorado Job Protection and Civil Rights Act of 2013 [1] provides strong, sweeping protections for employees from certain types of discrimination. An employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or marital status.

In addition, an employer must make reasonable accommodations for a pregnant or breastfeeding employee. Discrimination in the workplace occurs when you’re treated differently because of a protected status. Colorado law protects many different classes, including gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Whistleblower Protection

If you suspect someone is committing a crime at work, you have the right to report it. You can report suspected illegal activity without fear of retaliation. When you report a crime, you’re called a whistleblower. Your employer may not terminate you or penalize you in any way for taking the step to report what you believe might be criminal activity.

Workers’ Compensation

Your employer must pay for your medical bills if you get hurt on the job. Workers’ compensation covers any type of injury that occurs at work or because of work. Both immediate and chronic injuries count. When you’re hurt on the job, you have a right to payment for your medical treatment. You also deserve financial compensation if you’re unable to work because of your injuries. Workers’ compensation is the term for the rights that an employee has in Colorado when they’re injured because of their job duties.

The Right to Discuss Your Wage

Does your employer put pressure on you not to discuss your wages with coworkers? Have they asked you to sign a confidentiality agreement not to discuss what you get paid with others? In Colorado, they can’t do that.

In the State of Colorado, your employee rights include the right to talk about what you get paid. You can talk about pay as much as you want to. An employer can’t penalize their employees for talking about wage and pay information.

Minimum Wage and Overtime

Colorado has minimum wage laws [2]. The Colorado minimum wage is $11.10 per hour. Tipped employees may make less. In addition to minimum wage, you have a right to overtime pay based on hours and days worked. If you work more than 40 hours in a work week, you deserve time and a half for any hours of overtime worked. Overtime pay also kicks in any time that you work more than 12 hours in a day or 12 consecutive hours over a two-day period.

OSHA Compliance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a federal organization that creates safety standards for workers. OSHA guidelines apply to a wide variety of occupations and many different safety issues. All of the rules are designed to keep employees safe at work. If your employer isn’t following OSHA standards, you have the right to insist on enforcement without retaliation from your employer.

Leave as Required by Law

For a qualifying reason, you have the right to take leave from your job. Things like a family medical event [3], jury duty, and other situations give you the right to take unpaid leave from your job. As long as you meet all of the qualifications, you may take time off from your job without pay and without a penalty. Colorado employers must comply with all reasons for leave that state and federal law require.

Health Care Coverage for 18 Months

When you separate from a Colorado employer, you have the right to continuation of your health insurance for up to 18 months. It’s up to you whether you want to continue your health insurance at all or for any period of time up to 18 months.

COBRA, or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is the federal law that gives you the right to continue your health insurance after employment ends. In addition to termination of employment, death of the employee is a qualifying event that gives others covered under the insurance the right to continue their health insurance plan.

A Smoke-Free Workplace

Colorado employers may not require you to work in a smoking environment. You have the right to a smoke-free workplace. In addition to prohibiting smoking in the workplace, there are restrictions about how far from the entrance to the building that people have to be to smoke.

Access to Your Own Personnel File

In Colorado, an employee has the right to their own personnel file. You may look at your own personnel file to look at your discipline records, eligibility for advancement, and any other purpose. Your employee rights in Colorado include the right to look at your own employee files.

Do Employees Have to Take a Lunch Break in Colorado?

No, employees do not have to take a lunch break in Colorado. The law is that the employer must offer the employee an unpaid lunch hour of 30 minutes. If the employee is completely relieved of their duties for the 30-minute period, the lunch break is unpaid. However, if the employer is unable to completely relieve the employee of all of their duties, the employee doesn’t have to take a lunch break. They can eat their lunch, but they get full pay.

What Are the Break Laws in Colorado?

The break laws in Colorado are one, 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked. The employer must pay the employee for the 10-minute break. In addition, the employer must offer an unpaid, uninterrupted lunch for 30 minutes. If an unpaid lunch isn’t practical because of the nature of the work, the employer must allow the worker to eat, and the lunch period must be paid. Break laws in Colorado require both paid breaks and unpaid lunches based on the number of hours worked.

Contact our Denver Employment Law Attorneys

Do you have questions about your employee rights? Our Denver attorneys for employee rights aggressively represent people who need their rights protected. Contact us today for your free consultation.


[1] ACLU Colorado. HB13-1136: Job Protection Civil Rights Enforcement Act 2013. Retrieved 09 October 2019 from

[2] Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Wage and Hour Laws. Retrieved 09 October 2019 from

[3] Colorado Division of Human Resources Department of Personnel & Administration.Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Retrieved 09 October 2019 from

Kyle Bachus

Kyle opened Bachus & Schanker, with little more than a tiny, rented office and a lot of determination. Starting with less than $15,000, their business has grown into one of the largest, most well respected personal injury firms in the Colorado region. Kyle and his partner Darin Schanker are committed to understanding the circumstances confronting their clients, and ensuring that responsible parties are held accountable for damages they have caused.

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Super Lawyers - Kyle Bachus
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
Super Lawyers - Darin Schanker
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyer
5280 Top Lawyers of Denver
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