What does the Denver Minimum Wage Ordinance require?
On November 27, 2019, the Denver Minimum Wage Ordinance, Council Bill 19-1237, was signed into law establishing the City’s first city-wide minimum wage rate effective January 1, 2020, and providing for subsequent increases in the minimum wage rate each year thereafter. In addition to paying covered workers at least the current minimum wage, the Ordinance prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for exercising any of their rights under the Ordinance. The Ordinance also requires employers to post the Denver Minimum Wage Poster in the workplace, retain payroll records for each employee as required, respond to complaints and provide information to the City auditor, if so required.
What does the Denver Minimum Wage Ordinance require employers to pay?
The Ordinance provides for minimum wage increases as follows:
- Effective January 1, 2021, the citywide minimum wage rate is $14.77 an hour.
- Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage for food and beverage workers who receive tips is $11.75 per hour.
- Effective January 1, 2022, the citywide minimum wage rate is $15.87 an hour.
- Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and each year thereafter, an annual adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index.
- Tips received by a food and beverage worker may be applied to an employer’s obligation to pay the Denver minimum wage rate. However, no more than $3.02 per hour in tip income (“Tip Credit”) may be used to offset payment of the Denver minimum wage rate.
- Employers may pay minors working pursuant to a certified youth employment program up to 15% less per hour than the current Denver minimum wage rate.
Who must be paid the Denver Minimum Wage Rate?
- The Denver Minimum Wage Ordinance requires every employer who employs a worker to perform at least four (4) hours of work per week within the geographic boundaries of the City to pay such worker no less than the City’s then-effective minimum wage rate.
- The Denver Minimum Wage Ordinance applies to full- and part-time employees, temporary workers, agents or any other person performing work on behalf of or for the benefit of an employer.
- The Ordinance does not apply to independent contractors and volunteers.
Who must post the Denver Minimum Wage Poster?
- All employers of workers covered by the Denver Minimum Wage Ordinance must post in a place which is prominent and easily accessible to workers the official Denver Minimum Wage Poster to inform them of the minimum wage that must be paid and that complaints related to any alleged violations of the Ordinance may be submitted to the City auditor.
- Employers must display the Denver Minimum Wage Poster in English and Spanish.
- If display of the physical Denver Minimum Wage Poster is not feasible, including situations when a worker does not have a regular workplace or job site, employers may provide the required information on an individual basis, in a worker’s primary language, in a physical or electronic form that is reasonably conspicuous and accessible.
How is the Denver Minimum Wage Ordinance enforced?
Any person may submit a complaint for violation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance to his or her employer or to the City auditor. Employees have the right initiate a private cause of action against an employer within three (3) years of the alleged violation. A written complaint must be submitted to the City auditor within one (1) year of the alleged violation. The City may also investigate non-compliance on the City’s own initiative. Remedies and penalties for violations of the Minimum Wage Ordinance include:
- Employees may recover payment of wages unlawfully withheld and unpaid overtime, interest, a penalty of $100 for each employee whose rights were violated for each day of the violation, liquidated damages, reinstatement, injunctive relief and attorneys fees and costs.
- The City may impose penalties of up to $5,000 for each wage and/or retaliation violation, in addition to daily penalties for each worker paid less than the minimum wage rate, a penalty of up to $1,000 for failure to furnish records and a penalty of up to $1,000 for false reporting.
- Employers must retain payroll records for a period of at least three (3) years.