Agricultural workers who need assistance with a matter involving Colorado’s fair wage and overtime pay laws should contact a Colorado law firm to have a lawyer summarize the new law and its impact on workers.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently signed into law Senate Bill 87, the agricultural workers’ rights bill, but not all farmers are happy with the new law. Sponsors of Colorado’s SB21-087 wanted to protect agricultural workers from abuses and exploitation. According to Senator Danielson, Colorado agriculture workers were not guaranteed minimum wage, overtime pay, and were not allowed to organize themselves into a union.
Colorado has about 40,000 recorded agricultural workers, but there are more that are not counted because they are undocumented. Farmworkers were exempt from minimum wage requirements and protections provided to employees in other industries under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Victimized employees can discuss protections that include wage theft, health and safety violations, and employee misclassifications with an employment law attorney.
Under the new law workers are allowed state and local minimum wages, overtime pay and breaks throughout the daily work period, along with much needed employee safety training. The new law also addresses work-related health, wellness, and housing problems and sets up a platform to share grievances with employers. If employees feel they are being shorted on fair wages, they should speak to employment attorneys in Colorado.
Employee classification and laws
An experienced attorney can help workers with employee work status and classification. Covered, non-exempt employees with a normal work schedule of 40 hours per week for instance, should be eligible for time and a half of an hourly wage for the hours worked over that, and the State of Colorado has adopted some changes to this law effective March 16, 2020 addressing a third category in the approved overtime pay language.
Not all employers are required by law to pay out additional wages for overtime, although exceptions are rare. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires companies with over $500,000 in annual sales and those that participate in interstate commerce, or business between states, to pay their workers an overtime wage. While small farm workers may be included in the “exceptions category,” many agricultural workers are working on big farms and may be able to seek legal remedy for wage shortages depending on their situation.
Colorado law and limitation to filing
Colorado laws tend to be stricter than federal laws to the benefit of employees. Employers must pay one-and-a-half time if an employee works more than 12 hours in one workday, if they work a 12 hour day regardless of start and end times, or if they work more than 40 hours over one work week whichever yields them the highest payment amount. The statute of limitations requires claims to be made within 2 years, or 3 years if the violation is willful and employees can recover unpaid overtime for that time period preceding the filing of a legal claim. An employment law attorney can explain federal and Colorado state overtime laws.
Hire legal counsel
Agricultural workers who need assistance with a matter involving Colorado’s fair wage and overtime pay laws should contact a Colorado law firm to have a lawyer summarize the new law and its impact on workers. While agricultural workers are exempt from protections in some circumstances, legal counsel can verify that fact and work with employees who have been shorted fair wages.