One of the most frustrating things an employee has to deal with is not being paid properly, or at all, for time he or she actually worked. This can include both standard wages that were not paid, as well as unpaid overtime wages. If discussing the issue with the employer does not work, legal action with the help from an attorney who specializes in labor and employment laws may be necessary.
A dispute regarding unpaid wages in Denver between an employer that runs an events company and some of his employees made the local news.
Denver events company is a month behind on paying wages
The company called Diamond Standard Events owes over thirty employees their wages related to work that was completed a month ago. The owner claims that a local client who he helped with an Irish festival never paid him, which is in turn affecting his ability to pay his workers. He made statements regarding having difficulties with clients actually honoring their promises and paying him for the services his company has provided.
The local news station contacted the event planner of the Irish Festival to try to determine what is preventing them from making payments on time. She said that she has been doing similar events for 40 years and payments have never been an issue. She claims that the situation with Diamond Standard was handled just like all other companies they work with–half is paid up front and the rest is sent out after thirty days. The owner of Diamond Standard claims that this is a lie and that they promised to send the payment within seven days. The problem is complicated by the fact that neither party can provide any documentation of any kind evidencing such an agreement.
Employees of Diamond Standard Events claim that they have had similar issues in the past with the owner not paying them properly or at all. He claims that they will be paid as soon as the outstanding invoice is fulfilled, but he also commented that he does not know if they will be able to continue to stay in business with these kinds of problems.
Is nonpayment from a client a valid excuse?
Even if an employer has disputes with clients or other financial problems, they are still obligated to pay their employees for work that has already been performed. Issues like non-payment from a third party is not a legal defense to leaving employees unpaid, and employment lawyers know that workers need to receive the proper wages once work is completed.
Even when employers ask their workers to do small favors for them while they are technically on break or off the clock, workers should still be compensated for all “work” related functions. Many times, this can be considered wage theft based on the severity or frequency of the violation, and the employer can face serious consequences.
The Colorado Wage Act
An important law in the state sets out regulations regarding wages and employer responsibilities. The Colorado Wage Act specifically states that all workers must be paid correctly for all work performed in a timely manner, at a rate that is equal to or higher than the state’s effective minimum wage. This also includes compensation through bonuses, tips, paid vacation time, and other benefits that employees are entitled to. Pay statements may also be reviewed for improper or illegal deductions that deny workers their complete and accurate wages.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment can enforce the law through various measures. They accept tips from people who report illegal practices as well as claims for unpaid wages. After receiving this information, they may decide to conduct a formal investigation of the employer to see if any relevant laws are being violated. Contacting the Department of Labor does not preclude the possibility of a lawsuit, as victims of wage theft are still encouraged to pursue legal action through the courts with their own representation.
Retaliation from an employer
A common fear that employees have is that they should not report unpaid wages, due to the possibility of retaliation. They believe that their employer will find some kind of reason to terminate them for asking for their unpaid wages, even if the reason is questionable. Retaliation is also actionable in a lawsuit and the employer can lose money and face other legal consequences when they retaliate against an employee for exercising a legally protected right. The reputation of a business will also be severely damaged when a lawsuit related to unfair treatment of employees goes public.
Speak with a wage dispute attorney in the Denver area
To get help from an attorney who specializes in employment law, contact the attorneys at Anderson Barkley, LLC. In addition to wage disputes, they handle harassment claims, discrimination, wrongful termination, contract disputes, and other problems related to employment and the workplace.