Regional firms cited for wage violations
Autowerks East Inc.1751 Panorama Pt., Unit B, Lafayette: $3,281.68
Cooper Heating & Cooling,11780 Colmans Way Broomfield: $18,019.21
DND Pizza Inc. 1108 Francis St., Longmont: $1,722.90
Kathmandu Gifts and Imports, P.O. Box 582 Nederland: $7,902.94
Yellow Scene Magazine, PO Box 964, Erie: $2,069.17
Source: Colorado Division of Labor and Employment
Five Boulder and Broomfield county firms have been fined by the state and ordered to repay back wages. The information is being made public under a new state law that requires the Colorado Division of Labor and Employment to disclose when firms violate state wage laws.
In all, the firms, located in Broomfield, Erie, Lafayette, Longmont and Nederland, were ordered to pay a combined $33,000 in back pay, fines and penalties.
“Some companies are not going to like that their names are on a list,” said Alexandra Hall, director of the state’s division of labor standards and statistics. Hall said an earlier wage law, passed in 2014, gave the state much more power to enforce wage law violations.
“When the word gets out that you can be fined for not keeping the proper records and not responding to the division, I think more employers will be responsible,” she said.
The legislature acted after numerous news reports about wage fraud and abuse in Colorado.
Under the new Wage Transparency Act, which took effect in April, Colorado regulators must make public when companies are found to have violated the law. In addition, companies are assessed substantial penalties and fines when they fail to pay workers, fail to respond to state requests for information and fail to maintain the proper records needed to track compliance with the law.
A previous law had maintained that such information could not be made public because the violation reports contained trade secrets. The law dated back to the early 1900s.
Boulder attorney Brandt Milstein, whose practice focuses on wage fraud and abuse, particularly among undocumented workers, said the law is an improvement.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing that the public has access to information about businesses who are paying their workers and those who are not,” he said.
But Milstein said he’s seeing no reduction in the number of wage fraud claims being made by workers.
“I’m seeing no reduction whatsoever,” he said. “People are coming to me as much as ever. My fear is that unscrupulous employers are emboldened (to engage in wage fraud) because they believe immigrant workers are cowed by the anti-immigrant sentiment we’re seeing now.”
Across the state, 143 wage violations were recorded by the state, as of Aug. 1. In response, the state order the companies involved to pay a combined $500,000 in back wages, fines and penalties.
Jerd Smith: 303-473-1332, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jerd_smith