At Hamilton Faatz, we are revolutionizing the way people think about attorneys. As one of Colorado’s oldest law firms founded in 1955, HF has the expertise and wisdom to accommodate your legal needs. Our broad experience in our practice areas allows us the breadth to cover almost all legal matters, while our size and personal approach allows us to have a close touch with every client.
We are attorneys who believe our clients’ goals have the same priority as our own. We view each clients' problem as a challenge waiting to be solved and work with each client on a proactive level to ensure that small issues stay small. Our HF team knows the value of your most recent contract, product or acquisition and we want to do everything in our power to help you develop it, protect it and capitalize on your opportunity from it. When you work with HF, you can look to us as a resource to help you in all aspects of your business. Our clients' consider us their trusted advisor, whether it is in the courtroom, the boardroom or the living room. Welcome to Hamilton Faatz, PC.
For more information about the firm’s areas of practice, please visit the practice areas page.
Employers: Employee Wage Demands and the Department of Labor
November 17, 2014
By: Andrew Iverson, Attorney at Law
Colorado is an employment “at-will” state. Regardless of the reason for employment termination, or if there is no reason, all terminations require that wages be paid to the employee.
>> Termination by the Employer:
If the employer elects to terminate employment, those wages are due immediately. With certain and limited exceptions the employer may delay paying these wages for up to 6 hours the next work day or up to 24 hours. This is dependent upon the employer’s accounting unit and availability to deliver payment. There also are specific requirements prescribed by statute about where payment is to be delivered.
The dynamic of timing for payment changes when the employee resigns. Payment of wages are due upon the next regular pay day. Statute also dictates where payment is to be made.
>> Non-Payment of Wages Due:
Prior to January 1, 2015, the employee or their agent (i.e.: attorney) could make a written demand for payment of wages within 60 days of the date of separation exposing the employer to penalties. This includes identifying where payment is to be received. Within 14 days after the demand for payment, the employer should make payment of all undisputed amounts which are due. If done properly and in good faith, the employer is not liable for any penalty. As an employer, if you pay less than the total wages demanded, there is risk that the employee may sue for the difference. If the employee is awarded more than what was tendered, the employer is subject to statutory penalties.
If payment is not made at all or not postmarked within 14 days after the demand, the employer will be liable for penalties. Of significance, if the employee can establish that the non-payment was willful, the penalty increases. Evidence of prior payments over the past 5 years may be admissible to establish the willful nature of the non-payment.
>> January 1, 2015 Changes:
Effective January 1, 2015, an employee can pursue a cause of action for the wages in a court of law, as well as in an administrative proceeding. However, the employee is no longer limited by the 60 day requirement, pursuant to statutory amendments effective January 1, 2015. Depending on the employment relationship this could mean that an employee has up to 3 years, if not 6 years, in accordance with the governing statute of limitations, to file suit.
Also, a lawsuit in court is no longer the only means of recovery that triggers the penalties. An administrative proceeding is also being allowed. Additionally, but limited to a court action, if the employer has not received the written demand for payment 14 days prior to being served with a complaint in a court action, the complaint now serves as the demand. As such, the employer would have 14 days to make payment from the date of being served with the complaint. If payment is made in full, then the case must be dismissed. If full payment is not made, the employer may be subjected to penalties, as before, if the employee is awarded more than what was actually paid.
>> Trends in Wages Demands:
With the creation of the ability for employees to pursue administrative actions to recover wages, it is expected that more claims for unpaid wages will be made. The avenue of the administrative procedure will make recovery easier and less expensive for employees, in most cases. Likewise, the extended time periods for making a demand will likely mean more claims are made at later dates, dramatically increasing the employer’s exposure to written demands. The leverage some employers used, under the old law, to force a more expensive lawsuit and have the employee incur attorneys’ fees, is diminished. While there is an apparent move by the legislature to protect employees, the ability to negotiate a settlement cannot be overlooked in these situations. For assistance in understanding the legal issues of your particular situation, handling the non-payment of wages or partial payment of wages and what constitutes an earned wage, please call me to discuss your situation.
Gift and Estate Tax Planning
October 22, 2014
The federal gift and estate tax rules have changed significantly in recent years. The unified exemption has increased to $5 million indexed for inflation. Hence, you may now transfer the exemption amount of $5 million+ during your life or at death without incurring a gift or estate tax. As under prior law, to the extent you use some or all of your exemption for transfers during your life (gifts), your estate’s exemption will be reduced by that amount. Also, for married couples, the unused portion of a deceased spouse’s exemption may be available to the surviving spouse (portability). For example, if one spouse only uses $3 million of his or her exemption, the $2 million+ unused amount is potentially available to the surviving spouse, giving her or him the potential of a $7 million+ exemption.
While many think the new rules mean they no longer have to be concerned about these taxes, this may not necessarily be the case. First, portability is not available unless an estate tax return is actually filed for the deceased spouse’s estate and an election is made on that return. Further, there are certain situations where it may be better not to elect portability. Finally, portability may not be available to the surviving spouse if he or she remarries.
The new rules establish higher transfer tax exemption levels than in the past and create some planning opportunities. However, you need to carefully plan to take advantage of those opportunities and carefully draft your documents to provide flexibility wherever possible. We are available to help you navigate the estate tax rules and counsel you regarding your estate planning objectives.
By: James H. Marlow