Colorado has strong laws that protect employees. As an employee, you have rights regarding pay, your working conditions, and equal treatment compared to similarly-situated coworkers. When an employer violates your rights, you deserve justice.
15 RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEES IN COLORADO
You may have the right to pursue legal action to enforce your rights and win the compensation you deserve. Here are 15 rights of employees in Colorado from our Denver employment law attorneys.
1. 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 20131 provides strong, sweeping protections for employees from certain types of discrimination. An employer may not discriminate against an employee based on 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 work state law protects many different classes, including gender, race, and sexual orientation.
2. 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 wrongfully terminate you or penalize you for taking the step to report what you believe might be criminal activity.
3. WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
Workers’ compensation is the term for an employee’s rights in Colorado due to injury as a result of their job duties. 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, labor laws in Colorado give you the right to payment for your medical treatment. You also deserve financial compensation if you cannot work because of your injuries.
4. THE RIGHT TO DISCUSS YOUR WAGE
Does your employer pressure 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. Employers can’t penalize their employees for discussing wage and pay information.
5. MINIMUM WAGE AND OVERTIME
As of January 1, 2022, the Colorado minimum wage is $12.56 per hour2. Tipped employees may get paid a lower hourly amount as long as the wage plus tips add up to the full minimum hourly wage.
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.
6. WHAT IS CONSIDERED FULL-TIME WORK IN COLORADO?
In Colorado, full-time work is usually between 30-40 hours. Part-time work is typically considered anything less than 30 hours a week. However, the definition of full-time work can vary with individual employers.
7. 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 work to keep employees safe at their place of employment. If your employer isn’t following OSHA standards, you have the right to insist on enforcement without retaliation from your employer.
8. LEAVE AS REQUIRED BY LAW
You have the right to take leave from your job for a qualifying reason. 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 requires.
9. HEALTH CARE COVERAGE FOR 18 MONTHS
When you separate from a Colorado employer, you have the right to continue 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, an employee’s death is a qualifying event that provides others with coverage under the insurance and the right to continue their health insurance plan.
10. A SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACE
Colorado employers may not require you to work in a smoking environment. You have the right to work in Colorado in a smoke-free workplace. In addition to prohibiting smoking in the workplace, there are restrictions on how far from the entrance to the building people have to be to smoke.
11. ACCESS TO YOUR PERSONNEL FILE
Colorado work laws state that employees have the right to their own personnel file. You may look at your personnel file for discipline records, eligibility for advancement, and any other purpose. Your employee rights in Colorado include the right to view your own employment files.
12. WHAT ARE THE LUNCH BREAK LAWS IN COLORADO?
Employees do not have to take a lunch break in Colorado. Colorado lunch break laws state that the employer must offer the employee an unpaid lunch hour of 30 minutes. The meal break is unpaid if the employee is completely relieved of their duties for the 30-minute period. 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.
13. IN COLORADO HOW MANY BREAKS DO YOU GET?
Colorado labor law breaks include a 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked or major fraction thereof. The employer must pay the employee for the 10-minute rest 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 period laws in Colorado require both paid breaks and unpaid lunches based on the number of hours worked.
14. WHAT CONSTITUTES AS WRONGFUL TERMINATION?
All Colorado employees are presumed to be at-will, which means that either the employer or the employee can end the employment agreement at any time for any reason. However, employers may not terminate employees due to discrimination, including pregnancy, military obligations, making a complaint, gender, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, or sexual orientation, among others. Employers must have reasonable causes such as poor performance or excessive absences when they terminate an employee.
15. WHAT IS RIGHT TO WORK?
Right to work is a law that allows workers to choose to join a union in their workplace. It also makes paying dues and other membership fees optional if an employee works in a unionized workplace. Colorado is not a right-to-work state, but its Labor Peace Act⁴ suggests that workers are not required at most workplaces to join a union or pay dues even though they may receive the same benefits and compensation as union members. However, this also means that union protections may not cover employees.
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.
1HB13-1136: Job Protection Civil Rights Enforcement Act 2013. ACLU Colorado. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
2AHotfelder, A. Wage And Hour Laws in Colorado. Nolo. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
3Colorado Division of Human Resources Department of Personnel & Administration.Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Retrieved 12 June 2022