The 2014 Colorado legislative session adjourned on May 7, 2014. The legislature tweaked several pre-existing employment laws but steered away from major changes to the employment relationship in Colorado. Below is a summary of the new labor and employment laws on the books:
Wage Protection Act of 2014, SB 14-005
Expands wage claims under the Colorado Wage Act to include violations of the minimum wage.
Requires employers to maintain records reflecting the information on employees’ pay statements for a minimum of three (3) years from the date the wages were due.
Subjects employers who fail to maintain records to fines of $250/employee to a maximum of $7,500.
If an employer is permitted to make a terminated employee’s wages available at the work site or the employer’s local office, requires the employer to mail the wages to the employee if they remain unclaimed for sixty (60) days.
Permits an employee to serve an employer with a small claims court complaint in lieu of a written demand for unpaid wages.
Requires the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to establish an administrative procedure for investigating and resolving wage claims under $7,500.
In Practice: Although this bill made some changes to the Wage Act’s enforcement scheme, it did not alter the definition of “wages” under Colorado law, nor did it change the penalties an employer faces if one of its employees prevails on a claim for unpaid wages.
Addition of Employment Positions at Financial Institutions to Consumer Credit Checks, SB 14-102
Permits employers to conduct consumer credit checks on applicants or prospective candidates for employment positions in financial institutions, even if those positions are not executive, management, or professional staff positions.
In Practice: This bill amended last year’s legislation significantly restricting the use of consumer credit information by employers. Although financial institutions can now perform consumer credit checks for non-executive and non-management positions, employers in other industries are still severely limited in their ability to request and use consumer credit information.
Improving Protections for Individuals with Disabilities, SB 14-118
• Defines “disability” and “qualified individual with a disability” as the terms are defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Defines “service animal” as the term is defined in the ADA.
• Establishes penalties for public accommodation violations and violations of rights related to service animals.
• Reorganizes statutory provisions affecting individuals with disabilities.
In Practice: The Americans with Disabilities Act already provides a statutory scheme for public accommodation and service animals rights and responsibilities. It is unclear what legislators hope to accomplish by creating parallel state provisions.
The legislation passed in 2013 that brought the remedies available for employment discrimination under state law more in line with those available under federal laws takes full effect January 1, 2015. The law applies to employers of all sizes in Colorado, so large and small employers alike will face heightened penalties, more discrimination claims in state court, and possibly more claims related to sexual orientation discrimination.
A bill likely to return next legislative session would create a family and medical leave insurance system to provide partial wage replacement for individuals on leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act. The bill was introduced late in the 2014 session but did not pass out of committee.
Sherman & Howard will follow legislative developments through the summer and provide you with updates as necessary.