The Wage Protection Act makes several significant changes to Colorado wage law and one of the biggest changes is the addition of an administrative process handled by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (“CDLE”). For wages that were earned starting January 1, 2015, employees can now submit wage claims for $7,500 or less directly to the CDLE rather than having to pursue those claims on their own. Wage claims for more than $7,500 are not eligible for the new CDLE process.
Employees or former employees can contact the CDLE regarding their unpaid wages for $7,500 or less and the CDLE will have the employee fill out a complaint form. The CDLE then sends to the employer a Notice of Complaint regarding the unpaid wages. The Employer must respond to the CDLE within 14 days or can be fined $250 in addition to the penalties the employee can receive for unpaid wages.
Ultimately, if the employer refuses to pay the wages and the CDLE determines that the wages are owed, the CDLE will issue a Determination that includes a Citation and Notice of Assessment. The Citation, Notice of Assessment or Order from the CDLE can be filed in any court and be collected on in the same way that a judgment of the court would be collected.
The CDLE process is a brand new process, so there is still some uncertainty exactly how successful it will be, but if done well it could be a great way for employees with unpaid wages of $7,500 or less to be paid without needing to find a private attorney to represent them.
Employees with unpaid wages of $7,500 or less do not have to use the new administrative process at the CDLE. All employees still have the option of pursuing their unpaid wages by filing a lawsuit against the employer, so long as the lawsuit is filed within the appropriate statute of limitations.