Class action suit against Skico alleges wrongdoing in pay policies and promised benefits

Employees at The Cliffhouse at Buttermilk.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times file photo

Some employers across the Roaring Fork Valley compensate workers for their RFTA commute down Colorado Highway 82. But if a worker’s commute is up and down one of an employer’s mountains, does that qualify for compensation? 

A class-action lawsuit recently filed in Pitkin County Court claims yes. Aspen Skiing Company (SkiCo) full-time, hourly employee Craig Stout alleges in the suit that some of the company’s practices violate state wage laws and that they’ve misled potential employees with the promise of benefits that never came to fruition.

He and his legal representation, Denver-based attorney Alexander Hood and Fort Collins employment lawyer Brian Gonzales, declined to comment for this story.

SkiCo maintained its position that they do not comment on pending litigation. The suit was filed Oct. 31. AspenOne, the recently-formed parent company of SkiCo, is the largest employer in Aspen. SkiCo runs mountain operations across the four mountains and employs approximately 3,400 seasonal workers annually, according to it.

The class-action complaint utilizes an opt-out mechanism. A judge will verify the suit, likely after a few months of legal processes, and at that point, all eligible class members will be notified and afforded the opportunity to opt-out of the process.

The suit defines the class members as hourly SkiCo employees who worked at the ski areas and a subclass of hourly on-mountain SkiCo employees. 

All Colorado employees are entitled to a 10-minute break every four hours by the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order. The suit alleges SkiCo employees have not been afforded that break. 

In its list of employment benefits, the suit alleges that SkiCo offered lift ticket benefits for employee family and friends when in actuality those benefits are not available until an employee’s second year of employment. 

For the on-mountain employees, the suit seeks monetary compensation for the chair lift, gondola, and snowcat rides to-and-from their employment location. The suit claims that on-mountain employees are sometimes required to transport work-related items on gondola trips. 

Stout says in the suit that SkiCo required him to sign a waiver for on-mountain employment, stating that he will ski or snowboard to his employment location if SkiCo cannot provide transportation.

“Plaintiff and those similarly situated face physical hazard and exertion well beyond normal commutes in order to get to and from these on-mountain facilities,” the suit reads. “Plaintiff and those similarly situated must ski/snowboard or ride on employer provided snowcats or snowmobiles, and upload/download on gondolas or chairlifts, in order to get to and from these on mountain facilities.”

According to the suit, Stout has worked for SkiCo since 2022 and works among multiple on-mountain facilities including Alpin Room, Sam’s, High Alpine, Elk Camp, Lynn Britt Cabin, Up 4 Pizza, Sundeck, Bonnie’s, Merry-Go-Round, Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, and Cliffhouse.

The suit requests a jury trial for five claims, including violation of the Colorado Wage Claim Act and Colorado Minimum Wage Act, civil theft, breach of contract, and violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. 

Stout is seeking compensatory damages for himself and other class and subclass members, as well as moratory interest, or backpay. 

The suit reads, “Plaintiff and the Class Members are entitled to all unpaid wages — including unpaid contract wages, unpaid minimum wage, and unpaid overtime — funder various provisions of the statute, e.g., C.R.S. §§ 8-4-103, -109, -110, as well as other compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress, and penalties.”


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