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Colorado Employee Rights

Posted in on February 23, 2015

When you’re an employee, you have rights. The State of Colorado has strong laws that protect workers from unfair working conditions. There are also United States laws that apply on your behalf.

If you suspect that your employer has done something inappropriate, it’s important to understand what your rights are as an employee. When you know your rights, you can evaluate the situation and take the proper steps to protect yourself. Here’s what you need to know about your rights from our Denver employment law attorneys.

Colorado Employee Rights

Colorado employee rights protect workers from mistreatment and unreasonable safety risks. Even though Colorado is an at-will employment state, there are still many protections for workers. An employer may not discriminate or harass employees on the basis of gender, disability, age, race, or whether you have children.

Is Colorado an At-Will Employment State?

Yes, Colorado is an at-will employment state. Either the employer or the employee may terminate an employment relationship at any time. If you enter into a contract, the terms of the contract apply to your employment. However, even though Colorado is an at-will employment state, federal and state laws still apply that protect workers from discrimination and unfair working conditions.

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Colorado?

Wrongful termination in Colorado occurs when an employer fires someone for an impermissible reason. An example of an impermissible reason is discrimination on the basis of a protected class like sexual orientation, disability, or marital status. In addition, when you have an employment contract, firing you in a way that violates the terms of your contract constitutes wrongful termination.

How Many Hours Can You Legally Work in a Day in Colorado?

In Colorado, there is no limit to the number of hours that you can legally work in a day. However, if you’re an hourly employee, Colorado law requires you to receive time and a half pay for any work past 12 hours in a day. However, there are special rules that limit working hours for young people through age 16.

Employee Rights

What Are the Labor Laws for Colorado?

Labor laws for Colorado cover a range of issues like discrimination, pay, medical leave, and working conditions. The laws offer basic protections for employees. What laws apply to you depend on your profession and the terms of your employment. The labor laws for Colorado labor come from both federal and state authorities.

Do Employees Have to Take a Lunch Break in Colorado?

Yes, employees have to take a lunch break in Colorado. Your employer must provide you with a 30-minute meal period after five hours of work. The meal period may be unpaid. However, if you’re not relieved of all of your duties during the lunch period, your employer must continue to pay you through your lunch.

Is It Legal to Work Over 12 Hours a Day in Colorado?

Yes, it is legal to work over 12 hours a day in Colorado. However, in most cases, your employer must pay you overtime equal to 1.5 times your usual rate of pay for time worked over 12 hours. There are some situations where overtime doesn’t apply, like independent contractors and volunteers. As long as your employer pays you lawfully, you can work more than 12 hours a day in Colorado.

What Is the Minimum Wage in 2019?

As of August 1, 2019, the minimum wage in Colorado is $11.10 per hour. Colorado law requires increases in the minimum wage until it reaches $15 per hour by the year 2022. In addition to paying the required hourly rate, employers must pay covered employees time and a half for hours worked over 12 hours per day or 40 hours per week.

Does Your Employer Have to Pay You for Unused Vacation Time in Colorado?

Yes, your employer has to pay you for unused vacation time in Colorado. When you quit or if you’re terminated, you have a right to a payout of your vacation time. Although an employer may cap your amount of accrued leave, they must pay you for it when your employment ends.

What Are the Protected Classes of Employment Discrimination in Colorado?

In Colorado, your employer may not discriminate against you based on any of the following characteristics:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Gender/Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Whether or not you have children
  • National origin
  • Family medical history
  • Religion/Creed

Additionally, you are protected against unwanted, continual verbal or physical behavior based on these factors which creates a hostile work environment and is considered grounds for harassment.

How Long Does Your Employer Have to Pay You After Your Employment Ends in Colorado?

Your employer must pay you within 24 hours after your employment ends. However, if they terminate your employment, they must pay you immediately. In cases where you quit, or you’re laid off, they must pay you the next day. There are also rules about where your paycheck must be available. Your employer must make your paycheck accessible for you to receive.

Leave Time, Wage Laws Protection and Post-Employment Benefits

Federal laws allow you to take 12 weeks of unpaid Family Medical Leave to address serious personal or family illness without fear of losing your job. States laws also give limited leave permission for other circumstances such as voting, child adoption, attending school meetings or resolving domestic abuse situations. Workers are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or Colorado’s own state laws, whichever provides the greater protection. These laws address annual cost-of-living adjustments, minimum wage and overtime pay. Depending on your circumstances for leaving a job, you may be entitled to unemployment compensation or COBRA group medical insurance for a certain period of time.

Workplace Safety and Workers’ Compensation Colorado

According to federal and state laws, employers must keep the workplace free of known safety hazards and inform employees of unsafe working conditions. They are further prohibited from firing or demoting you as a result of problems resulting from on-the-job safety issues. Workers’ compensation is required insurance all employees must carry. This insurance compensates workers for expenses incurred as a result of an injury on the job. It covers medical and rehabilitation expenses along with any disability benefits you may be entitled to receiving.

Does My Employer Have to Pay Me for Jury Duty in Colorado?

Yes, your employer has to pay you for jury duty in Colorado. Your employer must pay you at your hourly rate, up to $50 per day, for jury duty. In addition, your employer may not discriminate against you in any way for responding to a summons for jury duty.

Are Employers Required to Let Employees Vote in Colorado?

Yes, employers are required to let employees vote in Colorado. Your employer must give you two hours of unpaid time off to vote. Even though your employer can give you the time off when they choose, you can insist that they give you the time at the beginning or end of your workday.

Colorado Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections

Sexual harassment rules are some of the ways Colorado protects you from having to endure a hostile work environment. One cause of this is unwelcome sexual advances or any requests for sexual favors in the workplace when denial of which would threaten a worker’s employment status.

Also, when working for a company of 25 people or more, employees have the right to be married to another employee without fear of losing their job or being harassed. As long as one spouse will not have authoritative status over their spouse in the workplace, does not have access to the spouse’s payroll information, and will not be entrusted with money by the spouse in the workplace, the employer cannot refuse to hire or terminate a person’s employment based on this marital status.

Whistleblowing Protection

If you are ever in a situation where you learn that a coworker or a supervisor is participating in illegal activities, there are laws that protect you after you come clean to management. As long as you are being honest, the state of Colorado protects you from being discriminated against, terminated, or demoted for reporting illegal activities happening in your workplace.

Contact Our Denver Employment Law Attorneys

Do you have concerns about the actions of your employer? We’re Denver attorneys for employee rights, and we can help. Our attorneys can help you evaluate the actions of your employer to determine whether your rights have been violated. Then, we can take action on your behalf to fight for the justice that you deserve.

Employee rights matter to all of us. At Bachus & Schanker, LLC, we’re proud to fight for fair working conditions for employees. There’s no cost to call us, and speaking with our legal team is always confidential. Call us today.

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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