First, you must make a demand for payment within 60 days of leaving the job. If you don't send a letter demanding your pay, you can't file a claim with DOL or it court. (Go to the Resource Box on this page for a sample letter you can use.) Make sure that your address is good -- your boss decides whether to mail the check or have you pick it up.
After your boss gets your letter demanding to be paid, he has to put the final check in the mail within 10 days. If he still doesn't pay, he will owe you (whichever is more):
- half of your final pay as a penalty on top of the pay, OR
- a "waiting penalty' of your average pay for each day you don't get the pay, up to 10 days. The waiting penalty starts building up when your boss gets your letter demanding payment.
If your boss doesn't pay after you send a letter demanding payment, you can:
- File a claim with the Colorado Department of Labor. You can file a complaint for unpaid wages and penalty with the Labor Standards Unit (10 days after you sent a letter demanding payment). There is no fee. Information about filing a request for mediation and an on-line form is at . They will try to work out your situation with your boss (‘mediation'). Even if they agree with you, they can't order your boss to pay. If that doesn't work, they will give you information about going to court.
- File a suit in court for unpaid wages and penalty. If you are owed less than $5,000, you can go to small claims court. You don't need a lawyer to go to small claims court.
If you have a union, you have more rights than non-union workers and your union can help protect your rights more effectively than the law. Contact your union steward or representative. They should help you even though you aren't working there anymore, because you are owed pay from when you were working there when you were protected by the union contract.
Independent contractors can't file wage claims. They can go to small claims court if they aren't paid. If you are just called an independent contractor so your boss can avoid the laws protecting you, you may be able to prove that you are really an employee (NOT an independent contractor) and win your rights and sometimes back pay, unemployment, or workers comp.