Agreement to Arbitrate a Claim for Wages In Another State

The Wage Claim Act provides substantive rights and a comprehensive scheme for employees to collect wages wrongfully withheld by their employers. Any agreement between employer and employee purporting to waive the employee's procedural and substantive rights pursuant to the act is void. Section 8-4-125, C.R.S. 1999. In Lambdin v. District Court, 903 P.2d 1126 (Colo. 1995), our supreme court held that an agreement to arbitrate a claim for wages in another state and under that state's law is void as a waiver of the important procedural and substantive rights guaranteed by the act. However, because the parties there did not argue the question of whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1, et seq. (1999), preempted 8-4-125, the supreme court expressly declined to rule on that issue. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the FAA preempted a state wage claim statute that authorized an action in the state courts to collect wages regardless of "the existence of any private agreement to arbitrate." Perry v. Thomas, 482 U.S. 483, 484, 107 S. Ct. 2520, 2523, 96 L. Ed. 2d 426, 432 (1987). A division of this court applied the holding in Perry in determining that the FAA expressly preempts 8-4-125. Grohn v. Sisters of Charity Health Services Colorado, 960 P.2d 722 (Colo. App. 1998).