Denver Auditor Timothy O’Brien reminded businesses that he now has the authority per the city’s minimum wage ordinance to investigate, fine and analyze employers’ underpayments of the $12.85-per-hour wage.
“Only work performed on or after Jan. 1 will qualify for the citywide minimum wage,” O’Brien’s office wrote on the auditor’s website. “If our office finds and investigates a credible complaint, we will inform the employer and request documentation. Employers may not retaliate against employees for their involvement in an investigation.”
Upon an employer's first violation, the auditor may waive the fine if the error was made in “good faith” and rectified within 30 days. Otherwise, the fine is $50 per day per employee. Multiple violations require mandatory fines, which O’Brien opposed as a matter of policy.
“I have expressed my concerns that mandatory fines for second offenses could be a burden to small companies with high turnover and continuing good-faith errors,” O’Brien said. “Now that the law gives the Auditor no discretion on this issue, I hope to work proactively to educate employers, so they can avoid repeating errors and incurring the mandatory fines.”
Violators must provide evidence to the auditor of restitution. If the employer is unsuccessful in locating an employee, the city will hold the payment for three years and advertise the available back wages on the web page it currently uses in enforcing the prevailing and living wages.
Starting in 2022, O'Brien will be allowed to use the data his office collects to initiate wage theft investigations on his own.