DOUGHERTY: Enforce the laws protecting workers (CO)

JAN 27, 2018

No one who works should be paid less than what they are owed. As Pueblo’s economy bounces back, protecting the workforce fueling our economy is now more important than ever. Colorado’s attorney general can and should play a key role in that vital effort because our labor force is the cornerstone of economic strength.

Other states have shown us the value of having an attorney general who enforces the rules and standards that guarantee basic employment rights. As attorney general, I pledge to engage the personnel and resources of my office to protect Colorado’s workforce.

Colorado’s workers are entitled to the right to be paid for a day’s work; the right to receive the minimum wage and any overtime pay or tips that are earned; the right to full payment of promised wages, without illegal deductions; and the right to have state and federal labor standards enforced.

As Coloradans, we have recognized how important these principles are. In 2016, Coloradans voted to raise the state’s minimum wage, with increases implemented over the next three years that far surpass the federal minimum wage — although it is still not enough for a lot of families. In 2014, the governor authorized the Wage Protection Act, giving the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment a better enforcement process to help employees who are denied their rightful wages. And last year, we passed a law requiring wage theft transparency, so that information is now available to the public about employers who are cited for stealing wages.

But there is much more to be done to ensure that our workforce is treated fairly. Coloradans are subjected to an estimated $750 million in wage theft every year. CDLE is on the frontline of this problem, handling the hundreds of individual wage complaints filed every year. But to truly advance fair treatment in Colorado’s workplaces, we need to take action on the broader problems affecting whole sectors of workers. Large portions of our workforce like those employed in the retail, restaurant, hotel and construction industries are particularly vulnerable to violations of labor laws.

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