The concept of working to earn money to support one’s self and/or a family is as old as the United States itself. Over the years, numerous movements have led to the creation of fair living wages, safe work environments, and protection from discriminatory practices. While it is true that employers continue to violate some basic protections and adhere to certain laws, many are unaware of how prevalent the problem of unpaid wages is. Today thousands of claims are reported annually involving employers failing to pay their employees properly. In response to this problem the state of Colorado is getting serious about unpaid wages and punishing the employers who commit the offense.
Types of Unpaid Wage Scenarios
When people hear the term unpaid wages, they often imagine a scenario in which a person works for a few weeks and then does not receive a paycheck. While this certainly occurs, it is not the only form of a wage abuse that hardworking employees suffer. Some of the most common types of unpaid wage scenarios include:
- Paying less than the minimum wage;
- Refusing to give an employee who has quit or was terminated his or her final check;
- Not paying overtime wages;
- Forcing employees to work “off the clock” and not compensating them;
- Requiring employees to use a debit card that charges them fees;
- Making employees pool or share tips;
- Not reimbursing an employee for meals, time spent putting on job-related equipment, and not reimbursing for work-related travel.
These scenarios can severely impact workers’ ability to provide for themselves, their family, or simply continue to stay in a situation that allows them to work their scheduled hours.
Why Colorado is Cracking Down
Unpaid wage claims are often more complicated than simply issuing an employee a check. Once an employer in Colorado has failed to pay their employees in a proper manner, they could find themselves responsible for paying additional fees or fines for a wage-related violation. Also, in some cases, unpaid wages end up becoming part of Colorado’s unclaimed property causing additional problems for the state by making the state responsible for managing these funds. The state must work to protect not only those whose unpaid wages are being cared for by the state, but also their heirs.
What Colorado is Doing
The state is making changes to the way unpaid wage-related cases are being handled. In March of 2018, the Colorado Supreme Court took steps to clarify what the statute of limitation is on claims involving unpaid wages should be. This move is designed to codify how far back a former employee can go when pursuing unpaid wages. Additionally, the state of Colorado has also gotten serious about issuing citations fining companies who are proven to owe past due wages. Colorado is zealous in adhering to the Wage Protection Act to pursue all claims of unpaid wages and utilizing the new Wage Theft Transparency Act to keep the public aware of employers who are found violating the law.
If you believe that you have been the victim of wage withholding, talking to a qualified unpaid wages attorney is something you should do immediately. Waiting too long to pursue your case could lead to the statute of limitations passing. The team at HKM Employment Attorneys is prepared to give you the legal advice and guidance you need to pursue a claim. Contact our Denver, Colorado office today to schedule an appointment so that we can begin moving forward with your claim.