Wage Theft Undermines Economic Growth, Law-Abiding Businesses and Colorado Workers –
The Colorado Wage Theft Task Force Brings Community Together for first-ever Wage Theft Summit
What is wage theft, why is it an increasing problem, and how are policymakers, the labor movement, employers, students and workers attempting to combat it? Colorado’s first-ever Wage Theft Summit—the product of the Colorado Wage Theft Task Force and its many constituents—brings together members of these groups to discuss the pressing problem of wage justice in Colorado.
Wage theft is a huge problem in our state. More than $750 million dollars are stolen from Colorado workers each year through wage theft; victimizing over half a million workers. While wage theft plagues all sectors of our economy, it leaves particularly enduring effects on low-income workers’ finances, health, and well-being. The Colorado Wage Theft Task Force views combating wage theft as essential to ensuring economic fairness in Colorado. “As momentum is building around wage justice in Colorado and the importance of considering new policy tools to ensure economic fairness, this is a particularly opportune moment to bring all stakeholders involved in the issue to the table,” said Sarah Horton, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Denver, and a member of the Task Force.
BY COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO STAFF OCT 19, 2016
Nina DiSavlo Speaks With Mike Lamp About Wage Theft
A new report on wage theft by the Denver-based non-profit Towards Justice looks at how it affects families, tax revenues and social mobility. Colorado workers lose up to $750 million in unpaid wages yearly, according to a 2014 study by the Colorado Fiscal Institute.
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Shepherds Proceed with Claims that the U.S. Government Illegally Created a Permanent Workforce of Foreign Shepherds and Arbitrarily Denies Foreign Shepherds Wages for All Hours They Work
Denver, September 13, 2016: Late Friday night, Chief Judge Howell in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., denied motions to dismiss claims brought by American and foreign shepherds against the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security. American shepherds allege that these agencies unilaterally created a permanent foreign shepherd workforce without the authorization of Congress, thereby undercutting shepherd wages. Foreign shepherds claim that they ought to be paid for all of the hours they work, rather than for an arbitrary number of hours far fewer than they actually work. Thousands of shepherds working for hundreds of ranchers in at least fifteen states can now have their rights adjudicated in Federal Court.Read more
Photo by: Joe Mahoney/Rocky Mountain PBS News
Article by: Anna Boiko-Weyrauch on 6/13/2016 of Rocky Mountain PBS
The SkyHouse is a 26-story luxury condo development at 1776 Broadway in Denver that touts such features as a rooftop resort-style pool,a Yoga/Crossfit studio and a pet spa on its website. The massive construction project is led by joint venture contractors, with numerous subcontractors and their subcontractors. It also appears to be one example of where worker misclassification occurred, according to a Rocky Mountain PBS News review of five workers’ pay stubs – part of a broader analysis that found that Colorado has lost about $23 million dollars a year since 2011 to businesses that failed to pay unemployment premiums. The underlying problem is when businesses misclassify employees as independent contractors and thus not subject to payroll taxes, unemployment insurance premiums, or overtime pay. That problem appears to be growing, the analysis found.Read more
By: Marianne Goodland
June 08, 2016
SkyHouse Denver is a gleaming maze of glass and steel, 26 stories that stare down on Broadway across the street from the Brown Palace Hotel.
The luxury high-rise, which is slated to open this fall, markets its 354 apartments to “next generation professionals” who seek a “fantastic downtown Denver location with stunning views of the city.”
But SkyHouse Denver also markets itself to another group, one that isn’t looking for high-rise views, but a paycheck: vulnerable, easy-to-exploit immigrants, some brought in from out-of-state, who were hired to help build the project but are now being denied wages and facing both gender and race discrimination.
That’s according to the attorney for Towards Justice, an economic justice group, which filed a lawsuit in federal court last week seeking unpaid wages for six named plaintiffs and approximately 50 unnamed individuals in Colorado, plus another 50 in Tennessee at another job site. But the lawsuit claims that as many as 1,000 other workers may be owed for unpaid work.
Federal Judge Rules Au Pair Wage Case Should Go Ahead
By DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press
April 1, 2016 6:40 PM
DENVER (AP)— A case should go ahead against companies that provide au pairs to families across the country, a federal judge said in an opinion that noted evidence from the plaintiffs that the companies cooperated to keep wages low.
The defendants are all 15 of the companies authorized by the U.S. State Department to arrange for young foreigners to stay with Americans and look after their children. The companies were sued by a group of au pairs who say they were unlawfully denied the minimum wage, overtime and other compensation.
In an opinion issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello agreed with an earlier magistrates ruling in Colorado that the companies, which had sought to have the au pairs claims summarily dismissed, had a case to answer.
Tom Areton, whose nonprofit California-based Cultural Homestay International is among the defendants, said au pairs should not be seen as professionals protected by labor law. Many of the au pair websites, though, stress the visitors child care experience and refer to them as nannies. "These are young girls who want to come, experience the culture, maybe improve their English," he said in a telephone interview.Read more
Law360, New York (June 6, 2016, 8:19 PM EDT) -- An antitrust case accusing ranchers and industry organizations of suppressing pay for shepherds on temporary work visas should be thrown out, a Colorado federal judge said Friday, finding that a wage-fixing conspiracy was no more likely than a set of independent decisions to pay the lowest amount allowed. U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer recommended dismissing a putative class action brought by Rodolfo Llacua and other former shepherds against Western Range Association, Mountain Plains Agricultural Service and members of those organizations. The recommendation can be adopted...Read more
Judge Robert Blackburn in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado approved a settlement agreement recovering $305,000 in back wages and penalties for vulnerable immigrant workers. With Towards Justice as counsel, Mr. Mancia sought the wages that were wrongfully withheld from him and from a class of 40 to 50 fellow grocery store workers. His employer acknowledged its mistake and agreed to pay its workers $305,000 in back wages.