A new tool to help victims of wage theft

A new tool to help victims of wage theft Nueva herramienta para víctimas del robo de salarios Los trabajadores por día están protegidos contra el robo de salarios Day laborers are protected against wage theft in Denver

the Auditor at your service

Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, Auditor of Denver

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My wage theft analysts are effective at closing wage theft cases and recovering wages for underpaid workers. However, sometimes employers do not cooperate or respond as expected. We have seen delays in producing information or even refusal to produce payroll records, which can keep workers from getting paid the wages they earned in a timely manner. On April 20, the Denver City Council unanimously passed the subpoena power bill for wage investigations.

This bill gives my Denver Labor team and me the tools we need to get information from private employers who do not voluntarily cooperate during wage theft investigations. A subpoena is a formal written order from a government agency requiring someone to produce specific records or evidence. For Denver Labor, it’s a tool for requiring employers to send information for a wage theft investigation. This information could be helpful in proving underpayments or other violations of Denver’s wage laws.

As an example, we received a wage complaint alleging that a Mexican restaurant in Denver was paying an employee the local minimum wage. Our office requested payroll records for all workers at the restaurant, but the business did not respond to our notice of investigations or provide payroll records for their staff. Fortunately, the complainant kept good records of the hours worked, tips, and paystubs, and we used that information to determine the underpayment amount.

My office recovers $500,000 for workers to start the year Auditor's Office Works for You

My Denver Labor analysts helped the worker recover $21,083.20, but they could not confirm if other employees at the restaurant were also victims of wage theft due to the employer’s refusal to produce records. The new subpoena power will help prevent situations like this by requiring the employer’s cooperation. This way, we will be able to help more victims of wage theft in Denver recover the wages they earned with their hard work.  

Every day without money matters to the hardworking individuals in our community who are supporting their families, neighborhoods, and our economy. That is why this new subpoena power is so important. It gives my team the authority to require employers to share information like payrolls, employee handbooks, and other records showing things like employee pay or deductions. It also fines employers for lack of record production – $1,000 every day of noncompliance with the subpoena.

It is a moderate and reasonable resource, used by every elected official in Denver, that will help us seek faster resolution and payment on behalf of workers, without forcing small businesses or other employers to spend time and money on a lawsuit. Although I expect to use it rarely, subpoena power a mechanism that helps deter wage theft and protect our most vulnerable communities. If you want to learn more about our work or you know someone who has been a victim of wage theft, please use the QR codes below. We want to hear back from you.

Read about Denver Auditor’s new subpoena power

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