Colorado House panel votes to crack open records on wage-law violations

Jeff Roberts, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition
April 22, 2016

Information on employers who violate wage laws in Colorado shouldn’t be considered confidential “trade secrets,” a panel of state lawmakers decided Wednesday.

Currently, as Rocky Mountain PBS reported last spring, it is illegal for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to disclose whether a company has cheated its workers. Under the state’s interpretation of a 100-year-old law, wage-theft complaints against employers must be kept from the public, even after an investigation is over and a citation has been issued.

HB 16-1347, which passed the House Judiciary Committee 11-0, would make citation and assessment information on wage-law violations available for inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) after an employer has exhausted all appeals.

“Right now, you can’t even get the information that a wage-law violation has happened and why,” said Rep. Jessie Danielson, the Wheat Ridge Democrat who introduced the bill. She said it’s “kind of ridiculous” the public is not permitted to know which employers have been found in violation of state laws governing the payment of wages, overtime and reimbursed expenses.

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Sunshine Week: Beat reporter shines light on schools’ use of federal contracts

By Robert Brauchle

March 16, 2015

 

Reporter Ryan Murphy began 2014 with a tip that Isle of Wight County Schools may have skirted federal regulations in the construction of the new Georgie D. Tyler Middle School.

Using the state Freedom of Information Act to access copies of contracts, emails and bid documents, the Daily Press Isle of Wight County beat reporter found that the school division had omitted wage standards from the construction contract that are required under the federal Davis-Bacon Act. The effect was to lower the cost of construction by underpaying local workers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I spent a couple of months digging into the documents and digging into legislation to figure out exactly what had happened,” Murphy said.

Murphy worked with school administrators to get the documents he needed.

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