Colorado wage theft bill receives final legislative approval
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May 6, 2014, 4:18pm MDT
Reporter-Denver Business Journal

A bill aimed at cracking down on employers who do not pay full wages and benefits to their workers is on its way to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.

Proposals similar to Senate Bill 5 had failed the past two years before Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, made significant changes to it this year.

By removing criminal penalties and focusing the legislation on companies that knowingly hold back earnings from their workers, rather than those that do so inadvertently, many business groups — though not all — went neutral on the bill.

Meanwhile, groups such as 9to5 Colorado and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition celebrated what they say will be increased protections, particularly for low-wage workers.

The Senate gave SB 5 the final approval it needed to get through the Legislature late Monday.

“We are proud to know that many employees will have the Colorado Department of Labor [and Employment] looking out for them, when bad businesses try to take advantage,” said Susan Gentry and Lisa Lucero, two wage-theft victims who testified for SB 5.

Ed Sealover covers government, health care, tourism, airlines and hospitality for the Denver Business Journal and writes for the “Capitol Business” blog. Phone: 303-803-9229.