Colorado Bill Would Inform Prospective Employees Of Wage Law Violations

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Chart: Wage theft complaints and inquiries in Colorado 2012-2015

If an employer pays below an agreed-upon rate, requires an employee to work overtime without pay or pays below the minimum wage in Colorado, workers and consumers probably won't find out. That's because of a 100-year-old law that makes it illegal to disclose wage law violations, even if companies are fined by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, because disclosing the violation may reveal a "trade secret." A bill currently making its way through the statehouse would change that.

HB 16-1347, sponsored by Democrats in the House and Senate, would make information about wage law violations available under open records statutes. According to the state Department of Labor and Employment, there were more than 4,000 claims made last year, and of the ones that were settled, the average amount paid to the claimant was $1,159.43. Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge) says she brought the bill after reading a Rocky Mountain PBS report about the issue last year.

Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, is following the bill and spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.