How Enforcement Works

Citywide Minimum Wage: $14.77/hour

During the 2019 legislative session, the Colorado legislature enacted a new statute permitting local governments to set a jurisdiction-wide minimum wage. In November 2019, the Denver City Council created Denver Revised Municipal Code Chapter 58-16, which sets the local minimum wage for Denver and prescribes the means for setting, enforcing, and complying with the new local minimum wage.


Receiving Complaints

HOW

Icon of a cell phone with a message blurb.Complaints can be made by

 
All complaints must be made in writing. We will assist anyone making a complaint in completing the necessary forms.

WHO

Icon of a construction worker. Complaints can be made by
  • Employees
  • A third-party: family/friends, attorney, community resources, labor organization
  • Anonymous


We encourage any party making a complaint to share contact information. We make every effort to keep complainant’s information confidentiality. Communication between the complainant and the investigator can dramatically assist an investigation.

WHAT

Badge and location icons. Complaints should include
  • Employer’s name
  • Location where the work was performed
  • A statement explaining the alleged violation

  1. The investigator assigned to the complaint may contact a complainant for additional information or documentation.
  2. Denver Labor will not ask and accept information related to a party’s citizenship or immigration status.
  3. The more information the complainant can provide, the greater the likelihood of a successful investigation.



The Six Steps of An Investigation

Step 1: Receive Complaint

Denver Labor receives a complaint about a minimum wage violation.

Step 2: Assess Complaint

Complaint will be reviewed to ensure initial investigation requirements.

Step 3: Contact Employer

Denver Labor contacts the employer to request employee, payroll and compliance documentation.

Step 4: Evaluate Complaint

Denver Labor re-examine the complaint, considering all information provided by the complainant and employer.

Step 5: Determine Underpayment and Fines

If employer has underpaid complainant, Denver Labor informs both parties of amount and levies applicable fines on employer for violations.

Step 6: Resolve Complaint

Employer provides evidence of complete restitution. 

CASE CLOSED

Without evidence, the case is referred to another agency for investigation or to an outside firm for collection of restitution.


Complaint Review Process

The complaint will be reviewed to ensure initial investigation requirements:

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1. Sufficient information was provided to permit an investigation. 2. The work was performed after Jan. 1, 2020.

3. The work was performed within the City and County of Denver.

4. The minimum wage requirements were not met.

Employer Requirements

 Denver law requires employers conducting business in Denver to retain records demonstrating compliance with Denver’s minimum wage law.

Icon of archive folders with a dollar sign in the center and the years '20, '21, '22. Icon of a 2020 annual calendar showing January 1 on the first page, surrounded by an arrow with a cross mark. Icon of an archive folder with a dollar symbol in the center, and spreadsheets inside the folder.

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1. Sufficient payroll records for a period beginning Jan. 1, 2020 for at least three years. 2. Employers will not be asked for payroll records of work performed before Jan. 1, 2020.

3.No special format or recordkeeping system is required.

4.Records must be retained for current and past employees. 

 


Employer Requirements: Payroll Records

When Denver Labor conducts an investigation, employers must provide payroll records in a timely manner. These records must include:

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Icon of a bill with a dollar symbol in the center, and a clock behind created by arrow.
Icon of a bill with a dollar symbol in the center and a dotted line that cuts a forth of the bill.

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1. The number of hours worked by each worker. 2. The hourly wage paid to each worker.

 

3. Any deductions made from worker wages, including any taxes withheld.

4. The net amount of wages received by each worker. 

 


Determine Underpayment, Violations and Fines

Complaint Unsupported

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  • Investigator will inform both the complainant and the employer no underpayment or violation was found.
  • Case will be closed.
  • A determination does not bar any party from seeking alternative relief or prevent a party from resubmitting a complaint with additional information.
  • A party has 30 days from the notice of a determination to file a written appeal with the Auditor’s Office. 

Complaint Supported

Icon of a bill with a dollar symbol in the center and a dotted line that cuts one forth of the bill.
  • Investigator will inform both the complainant and the employer of any restitution owed and the assessment of any applicable fines.
  • The employer can be fined for underpaying employees, failing to produce records, and providing false records.
  • Most of the fines are mandatory and cannot be waived by Denver Labor.
  • A party has 30 days from the notice of a determination to file a written appeal with the Auditor’s Office

Citywide Minimum Wage: FAQ

When does Minimum Wage Apply?

The new minimum wage applies to all workers performing work after January 1, 2020 within the geographical boundaries of the City and County of Denver. 

What is Denver’s Local Minimum Wage?

Denver’s local minimum wage is:

  • $12.85 from January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020;
  • $14.77 from January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021;
  • $15.87 from January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022; and
  • Increase by the prior year’s increase in the regional consumer price index every year thereafter.

When May Employers Pay an Employee Less Than the Minimum Wage?

An employer can reduce the its minimum wage obligation for actual tips received by its employees up to $3.02 an hour (“tip credit”). During an investigation, an employer may be asked to produce evidence their employees received tips equal to or greater than the tip credit taken by the employer.

Employers of unemancipated minors performing work pursuant to a city certified youth employment program may pay those minors 15% less than the minimum wage.  

Are There Any Exclusions?

Denver’s local minimum wage does not apply to:

  • Work performed outside of Denver;
  • Where an employee works less than 4 hours within Denver in a week; and
  • Where the employee is only traveling through Denver while working.

What Minimum Wage Rate Applies?

The applicable minimum wage is the greater of the applicable prevailing wage, living wage, Denver contractor minimum wage as set in D.R.M.C. §20-84, the local minimum wage as set in D.R.M.C. §33.7-16 or other state or federal for the class of work being performed.

How Do Employers Comply with Denver’s Local Minimum Wage Requirements?

To be compliant, employers must pay their employees the appropriate wage and maintain payroll records for three years.  There is no additional reporting requirement.

Who May Make a Complaint?

Complaints may be submitted by any person or entity. Complaints may be submitted anonymously. In addition, the Auditor’s Office may initiate an investigation based on an employer’s pattern of violations or credible government data.

How Are Minimum Wage Complaints Made?

Individuals who wish to make a complaint related to Denver’s minimum wage may e-mail the Denver Auditor’s Office at wagecomplaints@denvergov.org or call 720-913-5039.

How Are Minimum Wage Complaints Investigated and Resolved?

The Denver Auditor’s Office will investigate all credible complaints submitted. Complaints may be resolved by referral to another agency or mode of remedy. Where the Auditor’s Office finds and investigates a credible compliant, the Auditor’s Office will inform the employer of its investigation and request documentation from the employer demonstrating compliance with minimum wage requirements. When the investigation is complete, an assigned investigator will seek restitution for any underpaid employee and possibly levy fines or inform the complainant and employer no evidence of underpayment was found. Employers must provide the Auditor’s Office evidence of any restitution payment made.    

Employers may not take adverse action against an employee for their involvement in an investigation. Such retaliatory conduct is unlawful and subject to a $5,000 fine.

Are There Penalties for Failing to Comply with Denver’s Minimum Wage Requirements?

For an employer’s first violation, the Auditor may impose a fine of as much as $50 a day for each employee paid less than minimum wage unless the Auditor finds the error was made in good faith and corrected within 30 days.

For an employer’s second and third violations in a three-year period, the Auditor must impose a fine of $1,000 – $2,500 and $10-$75 a day for each employee paid less than minimum wage.  For all violations after the third violation in a three-year period, the Auditor must impose a fine of $2,500 – $5,000 and $50-$100 a day for each employee paid less than minimum wage. 

Where an employer fails to submit certified payroll records or submits false records in response to an investigatory request by the Auditor, the Auditor must fine the employer $1,000. 

This page is meant for educational and informational purposes. Nothing on this page alters any party’s rights, duties, or obligations to comply with any law. All parties are encouraged to thoroughly review the law ensure lawful compliance.


Resources and Contact

 

Submit a Complaint Form

Return to Citywide Minimum Wage 

Return to Denver Labor


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AUDITOR TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, CPA
Denver's Auditor


Denver Auditor's Office
201 W. Colfax Ave. #705 Denver, CO 80202
Email: auditor@denvergov.org 
Call: 720-913-5000
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