On April 13, 2017 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 17-1021, which opened up wage theft violations and enforcement actions to the public. The information had previously been classified as a “trade secret” under an outdated law. The idea for the bill came from a story I did two years earlier for Rocky Mountain PBS News showing how the opaque law shielded unlawful employers from public view.
“A Sentenced Life” is a Rocky Mountain PBS News documentary by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch and Joe Mahoney that follows four Coloradans of color as they navigate four stages of the criminal justice system. Narrated by Steve Chavis.
BY ANNA BOIKO-WEYRAUCH
Rocky Mountain PBS News
At a time when inequities in criminal justice are the focus of intense national debate, blacks and Latinos are overrepresented at every step in Colorado’s criminal process compared to their numbers in the general population.
Black and Latino Coloradans are disproportionately incarcerated, shot by police, arrested and detained as youth, arrested for marijuana, sent back to prison from parole, and disadvantaged by a criminal record, a Rocky Mountain PBS News examination of state data, records and reports shows.
If you work, what happens if you don’t get paid? That’s the situation for countless workers across Colorado and the United States.
During my time at Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, I researched and wrote about enforcement of state and federal wage and hour laws in Colorado. It’s an important issue and happens probably more often, and in more industries, than you think.
This series led to proposed legislation in 2016 to improve transparency of Colorado wage law violations and a state investigation into three construction contractors. It also helped recover lost wages for two gas station workers. The stories became required reading in a University of Denver class.
Here are the stories in print, with accompanying audio versions:
- Wage Investigations a Steady Issue for Bradley Petroleum Gas Stations, One of Colorado’s Oldest Employers (Audio)
- Lawsuits Allege Chipotle Mexican Grill Underpaid Employees, Made Them Work ‘Off the Clock’ (Audio)
- Colorado Law Shields Employer Violations (Audio)
- Spa Schemes Illustrate Impotency of State Law in Recovering Stolen Wages (Audio)
- State Wage Theft Cases Number in Thousands Each Year, Inquiry Finds
- Colorado Community Colleges Lean on Low-Paid Adjuncts
Don Taniguchi, third-generation manager of the Publix Hotel in the Chinatown International District, tours through the hotel rooms and halls where he grew up, recounting his memories from the past.
Audio and video production by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch.
Photos by Ken Lambert.