Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent
Towards Justice strategically engages with policy makers and public officials on issues that affect worker power and enforcement of workplace protections. That work can involve, among other things, (1) drafting comments to administrative agencies, including to the Colorado Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor; (2) testifying before state legislative bodies, as we have done in support of legislation to expand public enforcement of worker protections; (3) advocating before court administrators regarding access to courts for low-wage workers; and (4) drafting legislation, as we have done in support of legislation regulating no-hire, no-poach, and non-compete agreements, legislation that would create whistle-blower enforcement mechanisms for violations of state worker and consumer protection laws, and a city ordinance to expand city-level worker protections. We generally do not lead policy campaigns, but instead focus our resources on areas where we bring unique insight or expertise.
Examples of Our Work Include:
-Provide strategic guidance and drafting support at the national and state level for issues ranging from no-hire and no poach agreements in the fissured workplace to reforming arbitration laws in Colorado
Work with stakeholders to identify legislative changes related to Colorado's Wage Claim Act, salary basis, mechanic's lien protections, and other changes that build worker power
-Collaborate with Colorado District Attorneys to combat wage theft and better enforce workplace protections
-Call on the Polis Administration to Strengthen and Modernize the CDLE for the Benefit of Workers and Law-Abiding Employers in collaboration with local and national partners NELP, EARN, CO Fiscal Institute, and the Bell Policy Center.
-Use administrative processes to comment on regulations promulgated by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to ensure that the wage theft claim process, wage order, and strategic enforcement priorities represent worker needs
-Collaborate with Denver's Consumer Protection Division regarding the creation of a city ordinance to prohibit wage theft as an unfair and deceptive act or practice and presentation of a comprehensive plan for protecting workers from the scourge of wage theft in collaboration with the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters and the Korbel School at the University of Denver.
Crime & Legal
Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Our litigators help workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. We use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. We have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. We are leaders in challenging anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement.
Since our founding in January 2014, we have directly represented 150,000+ workers and recovered approximately $2.3 million on their behalf. Workers have used this money to put food on their tables, stabilize their housing situations, and pay off their debts. For the population served, even small recoveries can be the difference between eviction and housing stability, dinner at home and dinner at a soup kitchen, or transportation and losing a job.
While our litigators seek back wages, fight forced labor, and combat fraud, our team also engages with low-wage workers to understand their challenges and the creative new ways employers are undermining worker power and nickel and diming their workers. We also proactively educate workers about their rights and help them to identify illegal practices, provide free, confidential employment rights consultations, and connect wage theft victims to the partners best positioned to help. Those partners are part of our non-traditional network of enforcers, which includes private collaborating attorneys and a variety of municipal, state, and federal enforcers. When workers win, we work together to publicize their success, raise awareness of the scourge of wage theft, and deter future abuse.
Some examples of our work include:
-Conduct "justice reconnaissance" to continuously engage with workers and community partners o-n the front lines to help spot legal issues and respond to new and unique abuses
-Provide know-your-rights trainings to low-wage and immigrant workers in communities across Colorado
-Provide capacity building for partner organizations to help them issue spot workplace justice issues in collaboration with workers and clients
-Provide technical support and regular Continuing Legal Education training-including our annual Wage Justice Day-to build the capacity of the private bar to represent low-wage and immigrant workers in wage and hour and other workplace justice cases
-Train and encourage District Attorneys to participate in wage theft prosecutions and deter wage and hour violations through community engagement and communications
-Generate informational and educational media coverage of the scourge of wage theft and empower workers to defend their rights
-Co-Chair the Colorado Wage Theft Task Force with El Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores
-Raise awareness of workplace justice issues in a variety of contexts including but not limited to:
Freedom Network Conference, Immigrant Detention and Labor Trafficking, April 2018, 2019
NELA Wage and Hour Seminar, Fighting the Enforceability of Arbitration Clauses, April 2019
Harvard Law School, Unrigging the Labor Market Convening, July 2018
Detention Watch Network, Plenary Session Speaker, June 2018
United Brotherhood of Carpenters Western District Payroll Fraud Conference, May 2018
Mexican Consulate in Denver Annual Labor Rights Week
Curious Theatre Community Panel, Building the Wall, April 2017
AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee Conference, Workers Center Roundtable, May 2017
Colorado Women's Legislative Breakfast, February 2016
The Center on Human Rights Education's 18th Annual Symposium, Colorado Case Study of Informal
Labor, April 2017
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition 2016 State Assembly, Wage Theft and How to Fight Back, July
Southwest Bar Association, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Wage Claim Process,
Plaintiffs Employment Lawyers Association, Wage Theft & the New CDLE Procedure, March 2015