Colorado May Criminalize Withholding Wages

February 29, 2012

Withholding wages from an employee could become criminal in Colorado under a bill being debated at the state Legislature.

A House committee will consider a “wage theft” bill Tuesday. The bill would make it illegal to withhold wages owed to workers. Employers would not be charged if they can demonstrate they were unable to pay owed wages.

The U.S. Department of Labor has recognized wage theft as a national problem. The agency has hired about 300 additional investigators since 2010 to probe wage theft complaints.

Colorado’s proposal would make it a misdemeanor to wrongly hold up to $1,000 in wages, and a felony for wrongly holding more than $1,000 in wages. The bill faces long odds in a Republican-controlled committee.

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