The auditor’s office has already recovered more than $500,000 in wage theft for workers this year

The office recovered a record $1.1 million in stolen wages in all of 2022.
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Emmett Cromwell holds an American flag beneath SkyHouse Denver during a news conference announcing that SkyHouse workers reached a settlement about wage law violations, Dec. 20, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) construction workers; wage theft; downtown; denver; colorado; denverite;

Denver's Auditor's Office has recovered more than $500,000 for victims of wage theft in just the first month of this year. That's almost half of what the office recovered in the entirety of 2022, when the city recovered a record $1.1 million for workers.

The Auditor's Office said it's common to see numbers rise at the start of a new year, especially because some of the cases originated in 2022, but cash was only returned this year. Plus, Denver's minimum wage rose 9%, from $15.87 to $17.29, at the start of 2023.

One of the recent cases recovered $30,000 for over 31 workers employed by a contractor at Denver International Airport, who were incorrectly classified as apprentices. Another involved over $1,000 recovered from a food services company advertising jobs below 2022's minimum wage.

Denver Auditor Timothy O'Brien said the office has begun being proactive about wage theft instead of waiting for people to bring in complaints, especially for industries known for labor violations like valet companies or cosmetology.

"Every dollar we recover is money working people can use to support their families, pay their rent, buy food, and fulfill other essential needs," O'Brien said in a statement Tuesday. "Our wage work matters to real people every day, which is why I'm prioritizing it and elevating it like no one before me."

The money recovered comes after City Council passed an ordinance at the start of the year adding further protections against wage theft, which the Auditor's Office is in the process of implementing. "It's going well, but it's going to take a while to get this one to at least where I want to see it," O'Brien said of the new rules.

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