Politics

Denver’s auditor reports 85% boost in wage-theft collections, seeks more investigative power


Denver Auditor Tim O'Brien presents a demonstration check representing back-pay to Robert Boston, a former shuttle bus driver for the hotel project at Denver International Airport, on Nov. 21, 2016. (Photo provided by the Denver Auditor's Office)

The Denver Auditor’s Office’s office says in a new report that it collected more than $2 million on behalf of workers in wage-theft investigations against employers last year. Now it’s pushing the City Council to expand the powers of its labor division.

Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien presents a demonstration check representing back-pay to Robert Boston, a former shuttle bus driver for the hotel project at Denver International Airport, on Nov. 21, 2016. (Photo provided by the Denver Auditor’s Office)

Auditor Tim O’Brien’s Annual Wage Theft Report, issued late last week, says his Denver Labor staff collected $2.04 million in restitution on behalf of workers — an 85% increase over the prior reporting year’s total. The report catalogued his office’s work to combat wage theft in the city during the one-year period ending Oct. 31.

A key to the massive jump in collections was the council’s adoption in January 2023 of a civil wage theft ordinance that empowered the auditor’s office to charge 12% interest on unpaid wages as well as to levy fines up to $25,000 per violation. The law also gave the Denver Labor team the right to collect up to 300% of unpaid wages as civil damages to compensate workers.

The new report says the auditor’s office supported 3,570 workers during the year — up from 2,061 in the prior report — and closed 586 cases, compared to 454.

The labor division proactively dug into industries known for rampant wage theft, including nail salons, construction and home health care services, according to the report. Its also launched employer-wide investigations when complaints were logged.

“In our 2023 reporting year, we set records, took on significant new work and began protecting every single worker in the city and county,” O’Brien wrote in a letter included in the report. “We are proud of the results we have achieved, and I look forward to our continued growth on behalf of the whole community.”

Though it’s now armed with more potent enforcement tools, O’Brien and other auditor’s office officials made their case to the council Monday to increase their investigative abilities.

They appeared before the council’s Finance and Governance Committee to discuss two potential ordinance changes that would grant the office subpoena powers in certain circumstances. A subpoena can be used to legally compel someone to provide records, documents or testimony; in this case, the auditor’s focus is on obtaining records.

The first measure would focus on wage-theft claims.

Matthew Fritz-Mauer, the executive director of Denver Labor, noted during the briefing that the auditor was the only elected position in the city of Denver without subpoena authority of some kind.

He said using subpoenas to obtain records would be an intermediate step in working with uncooperative employers who refuse initial data requests — an action that would come before the office issued any fines.

The proposed law would rely on third-party hearing officers to rule on arguments, and it would speed up disputes over records that might otherwise take significant time to be resolved in a district court. Delays in enforcement hurt …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics

      

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *