Colorado, like many states, has comprehensive laws and regulations designed to protect employees from malicious employment practices, such as undercutting employee wages or foregoing overtime payments to employees. Although the vast majority of employees in Colorado receive at least minimum wage as well as “time and a half” overtime pay, there are certain types of employees who are exempt from overtime, minimum wage laws, or both. If you’re not receiving appropriate overtime wages or minimum wages, then you need to first make sure that you haven’t been misclassified as an exempt employee.
If you are not exempt, then you are owed appropriate overtime as well as minimum wage. As Denver CO employee rights attorneys, we at the Civil Rights Litigation Group aim to fully protect employees from violations of overtime and wage laws, and we’ll diligently and expertly represent your claims in Colorado civil courts. Remember that misclassified, non-exempt employees may be entitled to thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime and other wages.
For victims of wage or overtime violations, make sure to call our Denver law office today for a confidential, free consultation. In the meantime, you can learn more about employee exemptions in Colorado by reading below.
Are you an exempt or non-exempt employee?
The federal law regarding wage and overtime regulations for employees is the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Colorado also has several similar laws. To understand whether you’re an exempt or non-exempt employee, it’s important to look at the FLSA as well as Colorado’s laws.
The federal law, FLSA, applies to most employers in Colorado who have annual sales or revenue of over $500,000. At the same time, both large and small businesses in Colorado must comply with Colorado state laws and regulations, such as the Colorado Minimum Wage Order. Ordinarily, overtime is defined as working over 40 hours in a work week. Under Colorado laws, overtime is also defined as working more than 12 hours in a day or a shift. Additionally, the law states that overtime pay must be one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Overtime and exemptions from the Colorado wage order
The overtime and minimum wage laws defined above only apply to non-exempt employees. Section 5 of Colorado’s Wage Order sets the legal exemptions for certain occupations and professions. These include administrative, executive/supervisor, professional, outside sales employees, and elected officials and their staff. Other exemptions include:
- Casual babysitters
- Domestic employees employed by households or family members to perform the following duties:
- Duties in private residences
- Property managers
- Interstate drivers
- Driver helpers
- Loaders or mechanics of motor carriers
- Taxi drivers
- Bona fide volunteers
- Students employed by sororities, fraternities, college clubs, or dormitories
- Students employed by work experience study programs
- Employees working in laundries of charitable institutions which pay no wages to workers and inmates
- Patient workers who work in institutional laundries
Exemptions from overtime
Section 6 of the Wage Order explains various professions and occupations that are exempt from the Colorado overtime laws. Exemptions from all or part of the overtime requirement may include commission sales, the ski industry, and medical transportation. These exemptions are explained below:
Commission sales exemptions — Employees who receive commissions are exempt from overtime as long as 50% (or more) of their total earnings in a pay period are derived from commission sales. Their rate of pay must also be at least one and a half times greater than the minimum wage.
Ski industry exemptions — Employees who work in ski area operations for downhill skiing or snowboarding are exempt from the overtime requirements. This includes employees who provide food and beverage services at on-mountain locations.
Medical transportation exemptions — Employees of medical transportation operations who work 24-hour shifts are exempt from the 12-hour overtime regulation as long as they receive overtime for working more than 40 hours in a week.
Consequences for misclassified exempt employees
Assuming a worker is exempt from overtime, even though that employee is not exempt, can present significant consequences for the employer. According to federal laws, if an employer doesn’t pay a non-exempt employee legal overtime wages, then that employer may be liable for the underpayment, “liquidated damages” in an equal amount, and even the employee’s attorney fees. Also, it’s important to note that in cases of good faith, where the employer made an honest mistake, some courts will rule that ignorance of exemption requirements is not an excuse.
Also, the employer can get into more trouble, increasing his/her liability, by engaging in any form of retaliation against an employee who claimed overtime.
Call the Civil Rights Litigation Group to protect your overtime rights
As the leading civil rights and employee rights attorney in the Denver, CO, area, attorney Raymond K. Bryant understands the full scope of Colorado and federal employment laws. In addition to helping you know whether or not you were exempt, the Civil Rights Litigation Group will work with you, one-on-one, with the goal of holding responsible individuals accountable for their actions (if they are liable, that is).
To speak with attorney Bryant regarding your case, call our Denver law office today at 720-515-6165 for a free, no-obligation consultation.