Colorado’s new use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy sparks questions

The Colorado Division of Labor has taken a new position on enforcing wage claims based on an employer’s vacation policy, and the position is leaving employers with questions about whether use-it-or-lose-it vacation policies are lawful in the state.

In response to inquiries about whether policies that prohibit employees from rolling over some or all earned vacation or paid time off (PTO) from year to year, the division recently posted frequently asked questions (FAQs) on its website. The FAQs state that such policies don’t necessarily run afoul of the Colorado Wage Protection Act (WPA) and that if an employee challenges the validity of an employer’s policy, the determining factor will be when vacation is earned.

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Firing employee for off-duty marijuana use legal, says Colorado Supreme Court

by Emily Hobbs-Wright

In a nationally awaited decision, the Colorado Supreme Court has upheld an employer’s termination of an employee who tested positive for marijuana because of his off-duty, off-premises marijuana use.

The court issued a narrow decision on June 15 in Coats v. Dish Network, LLC. It turned on the fact that marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. Construing the term “lawful” to encompass activities that are permitted by both state and federal law, the court ruled that the employee’s off-duty marijuana use wasn’t a protected activity within the meaning of Colorado’s lawful activities statute because marijuana use remains unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

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Colorado wage theft protection law takes effect in January

by Emily Hobbs-Wright

Most provisions of Colorado’s new Wage Protection Act, which establishes an administrative procedure to adjudicate wage claims under state law, will take effect January 1.

The law means that for wages and compensation earned on or after January 1, 2015, the Colorado Division of Labor may receive complaints and adjudicate claims for nonpayment of wages or compensation of $7,500 or less. A written demand for unpaid wages may come from or on behalf of an employee and is satisfied if a notice of complaint filed with the division is sent to the employer.

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Categories: Colorado

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Colorado employers have new official employment verification form

September 23, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

Colorado employers now have an official form from the state Division of Labor that should be used to verify that all employees hired after October 1 are legally eligible for employment.

Colorado law already requires all public and private employers to verify and document the legal employment status of all employees hired after January 1, 2007. That requirement must be completed within 20 days of hire and is in addition to the federal requirement of verification using Form I-9.

Employers can obtain the form and instructions at

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Federal government eases stance on state marijuana laws

August 30, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement updating the federal marijuana enforcement policy means the federal government won’t sue to keep states from allowing controlled recreational use of marijuana, but the effect on employers isn’t yet clear.

The DOJ announced on August 29 that it was revising its policy because of state legislation in Colorado and Washington legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The announcement emphasized, however, that marijuana use remains unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and federal prosecutors will continue to enforce that law.

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Colorado law restricting use of credit checks takes effect July 1

by Mark Wiletsky

Colorado employers need to make sure their background check policies comply with the state’s Employment Opportunity Act, which takes effect July 1. The new law bans employers from obtaining and using credit history information when evaluating applicants and employees. Certain jobs are exempt from the prohibition, but the exemptions are very narrow.

Section 8-2-126 of the Colorado Revised Statutes provides that employers can’t use consumer credit information for employment purposes unless the information is substantially related to an employee’s current or potential job. That means Colorado employers are prohibited from using credit information in employment decisions except when credit or financial responsibility is substantially related to the job.

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Ruling supports firing pot smokers despite Colorado law

April 29, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld an employee’s firing for off-duty marijuana use, despite medical and recreational use of the drug being allowed under state law.

A quadriplegic employee who used marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana amendment filed a lawsuit after he tested positive for drugs in violation of company policy and was fired. He claimed his employer violated the Colorado’s lawful off-duty activity statute, which prohibits termination for any “lawful activity” conducted off an employer’s premises during nonworking hours.

In its April 25th ruling, the appeals court held that the employee’s use of marijuana wasn’t lawful activity because “for an activity to be ‘lawful’ in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law.” Since marijuana use is illegal under federal law, the employer didn’t violate the law in terminating the employee.

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Colorado civil union law takes effect May 1

by Rebecca Hudson

Colorado’s new civil union law goes into effect May 1, meaning Colorado joins eight other states that permit civil unions or have similar laws that recognize them. Nine other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage.

Under the Colorado Civil Union Act, the state will recognize civil unions entered into by same-sex and opposite-sex couples, granting rights afforded to traditionally married couples. But unlike a marriage, a civil union doesn’t provide federal protections or responsibilities. For example, under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal programs define marriage as “between one man and one woman.” If a Colorado employer remains governed by federal law, any benefits it offers won’t be extended to partners in a civil union.

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Colorado civil union law means change for employers

March 25, 2013 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The Colorado Civil Union Act, which takes effect May 1, requires changes in employer-provided insurance plans and makes changes to the state’s workers’ compensation law.

Effective for plans issued, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2014, a party to a civil union may cover his or her partner as a dependent. Employers providing insurance through fully insured plans must offer the same coverage for an employee’s civil union partner that it provides for an employee’s spouse. Unless an employee can claim a civil union partner as an IRS-eligible dependent, the employee must pay federal taxes on the fair market value of group healthcare benefits provided for the partner through a private employer.

The Civil Union Act also affects workers’ compensation by making survivor benefits and wage payments that are available to spouses also available to civil union partners.

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Minimum wage going up in 10 states

December 10, 2012 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The 2013 minimum hourly wage is set to go up in 10 states.

  • Arizona. The rate goes from $7.65 to $7.80. The state’s minimum wage is adjusted annually based on a cost-of-living formula.
  • Colorado. The rate is going from $7.64 an hour to $7.78 based on an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Florida. The rate goes from $7.67 to $7.79 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Missouri. The rate goes from $7.25 to $7.35 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Montana. The rate rises from $7.65 to $7.80 based on a cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Ohio. The rate goes from $7.70 to $7.85.
  • Oregon. The minimum hourly rate goes from $8.80 to $8.95 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Rhode Island. Governor Lincoln Chafee signed into law the state’s first minimum wage hike since 2007, raising the rate from $7.40 to $7.75 per hour.
  • Vermont. The rate goes from $8.46 to $8.60 based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index.
  • Washington. The rate goes from $9.04 to $9.19 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Federal law requires employers in states that set their own minimum wage to pay whichever rate is higher.

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