A common issue that workers have to deal with is an employer who is not paying them properly or at all. There are consequences for businesses who do not pay their workers, and lawyers who specialize in this area of the law can help protect the interests of the affected workers. Remedies can include payment of the missing wages, as well as other sanctions or fines against the employer.
The state of Colorado’s Department of Labor is investigating several unpaid wage claims related to a chain of urgent care centers that abruptly closed all of its Denver area locations.
Metro Urgent Care suddenly closed without paying workers
The state began its investigation when the business suddenly ceased operations and failed to make payroll in its final week for wages owed to employees. An officer from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment released a statement saying there are 21 outstanding cases involving this business which are actively being investigated. The company had closed half of its locations in recent months due to issues with rent, and the remaining locations closed on August 1st all at once. The founder released an email to all of his staff saying that the business would be unable to meet its financial obligations and all employees should begin to seek other employment opportunities. He promised that employees would be paid their outstanding wages, but payments would be delayed. No one was able to reach him after this final email, and the payments are still unsatisfied as of the time of the news report.
One employee alone is owed several thousand dollars for unpaid wages and unused paid vacation time. The company also violated federal law by not forwarding 401k contributions to retirement plans of employees enrolled in the program. There may be additional issues about whether the company had properly filed all previously required tax documents. If not, the company could be liable for criminal penalties.
A noted health professional in the Denver area had long warned that companies like Metro Urgent Care oversaturated the local market with expensive, redundant, and unnecessary services. This oversaturation and lack of planning result in very short lives for such private medical facilities. When the local news outlet who broke the story attempted to reach someone from Metro Urgent Care, all phone lines were already disconnected at every Metro Urgent Care location in Denver.
Laws related to proper payment of wages
Employees have a right to wages earned for work they performed. Employers are required by both federal and state laws to pay all of their employees for the actual number of hours worked, including any overtime pay. Violations can initially be reported to the local state board of labor or a similar organization, however such issues may not always be resolved easily and many workers may require more extensive help from an experienced labor and employment attorney. It is best to receive personalized legal advice before moving forward with an unpaid wage claim.
Remedies for workers
Unpaid wages are considered wage theft and the responsible employer will normally have to pay all earnings owed to the workers plus interest for every day the wages owed remain unpaid. The employer may also be fined or forced to pay liquidated damages for willful or intentional misconduct.
Possible issues that affect wage and benefit payments
Some employers often tell workers that they are exempt salary employees or that they fall under some other types of employment status so that they do not qualify for overtime pay, paid breaks, paid time off, or other benefits. In many situations, this is pure fiction created by an unscrupulous employer to save money at the expense of their workers. There are also current issues related to businesses who want to improperly classify most or all of their workers as independent contractors, even if they are working full time hours and should be entitled to benefits.
In other situations, the employer may make illegal deductions from a worker’s paycheck with the hope that he or she will not notice or ask what the deductions mean. There have even been cases where employers have lied to service industry employees and taken all or some of their tips.
Workers should consult with their lawyer if they are uncertain about their status or if their employer has told them that they are not eligible to receive overtime pay or other benefits. Many full time employees should receive overtime if they work in excess of forty hours per work week or on holidays.
Talk to local employment attorneys
To get help with issues related to unpaid wages, disputes with an employer, discrimination, harassment, and other common workplace problems, contact Anderson Barkley, LLC. They specialize in helping workers in the Denver area file lawsuits and claims against their employers.