DENVER – Denver Labor will make temporary operational adjustments to get contractors paid for work on Denver projects more quickly and to get money to underpaid workers as fast as possible, Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, said today.
“Getting money out to both workers and employers in our community is more important than ever,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Both our community and economy face challenges due to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and we want to do everything we can to get money out the door to those who have earned it.”
Our office is speeding up our process for working with contractors, to get them paid for work on Denver projects more quickly — including working with primary contractors to separate noncompliant subcontractors from invoices so other subcontractors can get paid right away.
We are also increasing outreach efforts to get workers the money they are owed for underpaid wages.
“We take a close look at every prevailing wage payroll and every minimum wage complaint, and our vigilance will not change,” Denver Labor Executive Director Jeffrey Garcia said. “However, we are looking for ways we can temporarily streamline our process in this time of greater financial need and uncertainty.”
In the first quarter of 2020, our team of analysts has had success working with both contractors and workers.
More than $100,000 Collected for Airport Workers
Our office received a complaint from employees on a solar panel installation project at Denver International Airport that began in January 2019. Upon further investigation, we discovered the contractor had not submitted the required certified payrolls for the work performed.
After we obtained the payroll from the contractor, our analysts determined not all employees were reported and the majority of employees were misclassified according to prevailing wage. They were paid as “laborers” instead of the correct classification of “electricians.” This month, our team collected restitution for 62 employees, totaling $104,350.
“This investigation took a lot of hard work and meticulous attention to detail by our team,” Garcia said. “Putting in the time to track all documentation from contractors working on city projects pays off when we can get wages to the workers who earned them.”
Denver Labor Works with Contractor to Get Correct Payment
After failing to submit certified payroll for nine months, as required by prevailing wage, an asphalt company submitted the correct documents. Denver Labor analysts found the contractor underpaid seven employees by more than a total of $18,000. Initially, the contractor miscalculated the restitution it owed as even greater than $18,000. Denver Labor worked with the contractor to calculate the correct amount and get the restitution paid.
Employee Receives $3,800 in Restitution
An out-of-state contractor attempted to reduce the pay of an employee who was working in Denver by subtracting their travel expenses, resulting in a prevailing wage violation. The employee received more than $3,800 in restitution.
“These are recent examples of the good work my team has been doing for years,” Auditor O’Brien said. “We will continue to work hard, get people paid according to the law, and observe safe teleworking and social distancing policies.”
In addition to Denver Labor’s expanded work on minimum wage at the start of the year, we stepped up our prevailing wage enforcement and education efforts as soon as Auditor O’Brien took office in 2015. The figure below shows the unpaid wages recovered in recent years.
You can find more information about the Auditor and recent audits at denverauditor.org.