One of the most frustrating things an employee has to endure is not being properly compensated for work they have performed. In some instances, this is simply due to administrative errors, while in other instances, the employer is deliberately trying to get away with not paying its employees properly. When employees become victim to their employer’s mistakes or deliberate actions regarding their pay, they can make a claim to recover wages owed plus they may be able to receive an additional monetary award as punitive damages against the employer.
Investigations reveal millions in unpaid wages in Colorado
In recent years, claims for unpaid overtime and other unpaid wages have resulted in significant sums being paid out to employees. The state of Colorado does have a process for investigating and fining employers for claims related to unpaid wages and overtime through the Department of Labor and Employment. During the year 2017, about 75% out of over one thousand claims against employers were determined to have merit and they resulted in over a million dollars in fines, remedial pay, and overtime wages. Many disputes were related to severance pay, unpaid overtime, employers who had went out of business, and unused vacation time. A significant number of the violations were not found to be as a result of willful wage withholding, but rather due to the fact that employers had either made mistakes or were unaware of relevant wage laws. Mistake or lack of knowledge, however, does not excuse employers from following what is legally required under state and federal wage laws.
One of the more noteworthy discoveries was that the Girl Scouts of Colorado had not paid out almost $8,000 worth of wages due to an error created at the time they switched payroll systems. The money was owed to former employees, who were paid appropriately once the discovery was made. Another company who deals with energy and grid technologies in the Denver area owed former employees just under $40,000 after they went out of business. Some complaints were also related to employers who had their assets frozen during criminal investigations by federal agencies, and thus did not have the means to pay their employees.
The summary noted that there are caps on the amounts that employees can claim as unpaid wages, but there is also the possibility of additional awards for penalties incurred by the employer for their wrongful actions. Typically, the amount actually paid out will double the amount of wages owed, due to additional fines and penalties. Another important factor to consider is that wage practice and wage transparency laws recently passed in Colorado have also helped employees succeed in their wage claims.
Protection for employees
Employees are protected from intentional mistreatment or mistakes by their employers in a number of different ways. All employers are covered under these laws and misconduct can result in civil lawsuits, fines, or other sanctions. Even something as simple as not being aware of having to pay employees overtime for work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek can become the basis for a wage related claim.
News stories related to payouts for issues like unpaid wages and discrimination show that these protections for employees can make a real difference, as long as employees are aware of where, when and to whom to report their wage problems and issues. This is why it is crucial to talk to an attorney as soon as wage issues arise.
Relevant wage regulations
There are federal and state regulations which govern how wages are handled. The need to accurately account for hours worked and pay employees their proper earnings is a serious obligation for all employers, big or small. The news story above demonstrates that errors or omissions in wage related record keeping costs employers in each state millions of dollars a year, and lawyers who file cases against employers are an important part of this process. Attorneys play an important role in investigating the merits of a claim and knowing the proper procedures a wronged employee must take to report and file a claim against his or her employer for wage law violations.
Talk to a lawyer about unpaid wages and unpaid overtime
Wage disputes may have various administrative requirements or pre-requisites prior to the filing of a private lawsuit. There may also be time-limitations that may restrict your wage claim. The best way to navigate this process and make sure your claims are handled correctly is to retain an attorney who specializes in employment issues. Your lawyer can tell you an approximate value of your claim based on your pay rate and the number of hours worked, and make sure additional money is not lost due to errors or an employer who improperly tries to avoid liability.
Get help from an employment attorney in your area
If you need to speak to a lawyer in Denver about unpaid overtime, missing wages, or any other wage or employment related issue, contact Anderson Barkley, LLC. They will guide you through every step of the process to help you bring a claim and get back the wages you are owed.