Labor and Employment Law Overview: Wyoming

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • State law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • An employer must fulfill certain requirements in order to conduct preemployment background checks and physical exams. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • Wyoming's minimum wage rate is lower than the federal minimum wage. State law also covers child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Wyoming has a number of laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including pay statements, pay frequency, wage deductions and health care continuation. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Wyoming laws require that employees be given time off for voting, jury duty, court appearances and military service. See Attendance and Leave.
  • Wyoming employers are required to provide reasonably safe workplaces. See Health and Safety.
  • Wyoming employers must abide by termination pay requirements, and also generally enjoy immunity for providing job references in good faith. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Wyoming

Wyoming is generally considered an employer-friendly state.

Select Wyoming employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Wyoming requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act

Under the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act (WFEPA), employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees on account of the individual's:

  • Age (40 and over);
  • Sex;
  • Race;
  • Creed (employers are not required to provide religious accommodations);
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Ancestry;
  • Pregnancy; or
  • Disability.

The WFEPA applies to private employers with two or more employees. It does not apply to religious organizations.

The Wyoming Supreme Court has held that the WFEPA provides a remedy for victims of sexual harassment.

Smokers' Rights

Wyoming law prohibits requiring an employee to refrain from using tobacco products outside the course of employment, or otherwise discriminating against an employee on the basis of use or nonuse of tobacco products outside the course of employment, unless such nonuse is a bona fide occupational qualification.

Employers may, however, differentiate between smokers and nonsmokers with respect to the type and price of any health, disability and life insurance policy offered to employees.

Wyoming Equal Pay Act

The Wyoming Equal Pay Act requires all employers to pay the same wage rate to both males and females for equal work in jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility and that are performed under similar working conditions.

A court may award an employee back pay plus an equal amount in liquidated damages for a violation of the Equal Pay Act. In addition, an employer may be subject to criminal penalties for willful violations or for retaliation against an employee who has invoked the act or who has participated in its enforcement by testifying.

Military Service Relief Act

Under the Military Service Relief Act, an employer is prohibited from refusing to hire, employ, retain or reemploy an individual because of his or her obligation to perform duties in a uniformed service, including the National Guard of any state.

Veterans Preference Law

Under Wyoming's veterans preference law, it is not a discriminatory or unfair employment practice to grant a preference in hiring or promotion to a veteran, a spouse of a veteran with a disability or a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.

Retaliation

Wyoming employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee for engaging in activities protected by law. These include:

  • Making a complaint to the employer, the state or any other person or instituting a proceeding under the Wyoming Equal Pay Act; and
  • Filing a complaint, instituting a proceeding, exercising any right or testifying in a proceeding under the Wyoming Occupational Health and Safety Act (WOSHA).

Wyoming recognizes tort claims for retaliation against an employee who complains of discrimination or harassment and for retaliation that violates public policy.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Wyoming can be found in the Wyoming Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Wyoming, EEO - Discrimination: Wyoming, EEO - Harassment: Wyoming, EEO - Retaliation: Wyoming, Wyoming Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Wyoming? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal and EEO - Retaliation: Federal

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Wyoming requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Background Checks

An employer may obtain criminal history information if the party being investigated provides a waiver and a fingerprint card from the state attorney general.

Wyoming requires applicants for certain positions to provide fingerprints and submit to a background check as prerequisite to employment and/or licensure.

Physical Examinations

Wyoming employers, at their own expense, may require individuals to submit to a physical examination before employment or at any time during employment.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Wyoming can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Wyoming. Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Wyoming requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Wyoming's current minimum wage rate is $5.15 per hour, which is lower than the federal minimum wage rate. When an employee is subject to both the federal and state minimum wage laws, the employer must comply with federal law.

Where the federal minimum wage rate does not apply and the state minimum wage rate applies, there are exceptions (e.g., certain tipped employees, agricultural workers, government employees).

Employees under 20 years of age may be paid $4.25 for the first 90 consecutive days of work.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Wyoming restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from certain dangerous occupations and from employment considered injurious to the morals, health or safety of a child.

Minors under the age of 16 who are enrolled in school may work:

  • Up to a maximum of eight hours in a 12-hour period;
  • Only between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on a day preceding a school day;
  • Until midnight on a day not preceding a school day; and
  • Only during the hours when school is not in session.

Minors between the ages of 14 and 16 who are not enrolled in school may work for a maximum of eight hours between 5:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m.

Minors under the age of 14 may not be employed except for farm, domestic or yard work or nonhazardous employment at a business owned by their parents, grandparents or legal guardians, as long as it is not during school hours.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Wyoming can be found in Minimum Wage: Wyoming, Child Labor: Wyoming and Wyoming Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Wyoming requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Pay Statements

An employer must provide a detachable statement with paychecks, drafts or vouchers indicating any pay deductions that were made. If cash payments are made, an itemized statement of deductions must also be provided.

Pay Frequency

Wyoming employers are permitted to pay employees monthly or as otherwise agreed by the parties. However, an employer that is a railroad, a mine or a refinery, or that offers work in oil and gas, a factory, a mill or a workshop, must pay employees on the first and 15th day of the month.

In the case of a labor dispute or suspension, employers must pay the wages due up to the dispute or suspension on a regular payday. During the dispute or suspension, wages must be sent by mail if the employee so requests.

Wage Deductions

In general, an employer may make deductions from wages only when required by law to do so, such as for federal and state taxes, Social Security or a garnishment order, or when the employee has authorized a deduction in writing.

Wyoming law sets special rules for wage garnishment under a Certified Income Withholding Order for child support. Such court orders have priority over credit garnishments.

Health Care Continuation

Under Wyoming's health care continuation coverage law, individuals who worked for employers that are exempt from the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (generally, those with fewer than 20 employees) and that are not self-insured may elect to continue their health care benefits for up to 12 months after employment has ended. Employees must meet the health care plan's eligibility requirements.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Wyoming can be found in Payment of Wages: Wyoming, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Wyoming, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Wyoming and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Wyoming? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Wyoming has fewer laws relating to required leaves for employees than many other states, but does have mandated leave laws such as:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Victim/witness leave;
  • Voting leave; and
  • Military leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Wyoming can be found in the Wyoming Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Wyoming, USERRA: Wyoming, Other Leaves: Wyoming and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Wyoming? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Act (WOSHA) requires an employer to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. WOSHA standards, rules and regulations generally follow federal OSHA regulations.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Wyoming can be found in HR and Workplace Safety: Wyoming, Wyoming Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Wyoming? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Wyoming requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Termination Pay

An employee who quits or is terminated must be paid in cash or by check, or by draft that can be cashed at a bank, at the usual place of payment and no later than the next regularly scheduled payday.

An employer may delay payment if:

  • The employee is a sales agent employed on a commission basis;
  • The employee has custody of accounts, money or goods of the employer; and/or
  • The net amount due cannot be determinable until after an audit or verification of sales, accounts, funds or stocks.

An employer may offset from final wages any amount an employee incurred during the employment and owes to the employer.

Vacation Pay

The value of accrued vacation leave is excluded from the definition of wages if the employer has a written policy stating that accrued vacation is forfeited upon termination of employment and the employee has acknowledged the written policy in writing.

Postemployment Restrictions

Restrictive covenants may be enforced in Wyoming.

References

A Wyoming employer that discloses information regarding a former employee's performance to a potential employer is presumed to be doing so in good faith and is generally immune from liability.

However, an employee may prevail if he or she proves the employer provided information that was:

  • Knowingly false;
  • Deliberately misleading; or
  • Rendered with a malicious purpose.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Wyoming can be found in Payment of Wages: Wyoming and Employee Communications: Wyoming. Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.