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February 29, 2012 08:53 PM UTC

Another Bill We Wouldn't Be Proud To Kill

  • 8 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

As the AP reports via the Longmont Times-Call:

Colorado Republican lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee have rejected Longmont Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer’s proposal to make it a crime to wrongly withhold wages from workers.

Singer’s wage-theft bill failed on a 6-5 party line vote on Thursday. The measure proposed creating a misdemeanor crime for an employer to wrongly hold up to $1,000 in wages, and a felony for wrongly hold more than $1,000 in wages. Employers would not have been charged if they demonstrated they were unable to pay owed wages…

Current state law treats wage theft – the failure to pay workers overtime, shortchanging them on their hours or skipping out without paying them at all – as a civil infraction, punishable only by fines.

It’s important to understand that House Bill 12-1296, the “Income Protection Act,” only criminalized wage theft in the event that an employer either falsely denied that wages were due an employee, or refused to pay wages owed while having the resources to do so–inability to pay due to hardship specifically being named an “affirmative defense” under the law.

Folks, we haven’t seen polling and doubt it’s been done, but we expect that this legislation would poll very high with voters–far more of whom are wage earners than wage payers, and many of whom likely presume that wage theft as criminalized by this bill is already a crime.

Writ large, its party-line death at the hands of House Republicans could be a liability.

Comments

8 thoughts on “Another Bill We Wouldn’t Be Proud To Kill

  1.  these issuses as closely as some of the most ardent wage earners.  But, I have some great friends who are Fortune 500 owners.”  — some douchenozzle, the presumptive head of the GOP

  2. There is a law on the books already which provides some protection against wage theft – C.R.S. 8-4-101, et seq..  This new bill would have increased the criminal penalties. However, it is very hard to get DA’s to prosecute these crimes – like most white collar crimes.

    The Department of Labor has jurisdiction to enforce the existing statute. Unfortunately, it is a low priority over there. The current law even includes monetary penalies which could fund the enforcement actions if the department had the will to aggressively enforce the act.

    Finally, there is a private cause of action which includes attorney’s fees and a civil penalty to the employee.

    Believe it or not, this is alot better than the laws in most states.

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