Workers On Luxury Denver Building Win $800,000 Settlement
By Colleen Slevin
DENVER (AP) — More than 150 workers who helped install drywall in a new luxury high-rise in Denver will share in a settlement of over $800,000 in a class action lawsuit over unpaid wages.
Under the terms of the deal announced Wednesday by lawyers for nine workers who filed the case, workers who installed drywall and others who cleaned up and hauled the debris from the work at SkyHouse Denver between September 2015 and July 2016 will be eligible to get about $200 for every week they worked. The nine workers who filed the case will also get an extra $1,000 each.
Besides those nine, lawyers estimate that another 150 to 200 workers, largely immigrants in the country both legally and illegally, worked on drywall at the gleaming 25-story building, which has a rooftop pool and one-bedroom apartments renting for $1,605 and up.
Using addresses and phone numbers obtained as part of the lawsuit, texts and letters are being sent to the workers who may be eligible to collect the money, said Sarah Parady, one of the lawyers representing the workers.
The settlement will be paid by The Circle Group, national drywall subcontractor based in suburban Atlanta, as well as a labor broker who hired the workers. In court documents, Circle Group said it was not legally the employer of the workers and denied their claims, including that they worked up to 60 and 70 hours a week with no overtime and sometimes no regular pay for hours they worked.
Plaintiff Cesar Salazar said it was hard enough to spend so much time away from his son while working at SkyHouse but it hurt to have to tell him that he did not have enough money to take him to McDonald’s because he was not being paid enough.
Another lawyer for the workers, David Seligman, said using labor brokers who skirt wage laws is common in booming cities like Denver and allows contractors who use them to get an unfair advantage over companies that follow the rules.
“It sends a message to contractors that they can’t isolate themselves financially by contracting out to shady companies,” Seligman, who works for Towards Justice, a legal services group, said of the settlement.