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Auditor Secures $241,000 in Back Pay for Contract Workers

A city contractor promptly cut checks totaling $241,000 to dozens of employees when Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, found they were underpaid due to a classification error. Nelson Pipeline Constructors, a subcontractor on Stapleton’s new Beeler Park construction, didn’t realize it was covered by Denver’s prevailing wage laws.

“The employees owed back pay were done a disservice by not receiving their full wages on time,” said Auditor O’Brien. “But with strict accountability measures in place, we can find these errors and make it right as quickly as possible.”

Prevailing Wage Investigator Kandice McKeon discovered the problem on a routine visit to the construction site. Once notified, Nelson Pipeline Contractors assisted the Auditor’s Office in distributing the checks by calling a meeting where workers could collect their back pay checks. Ninety-one workers were affected.

“Nelson Pipeline did everything it could to rectify the underpayment,” Auditor O’Brien pointed out. “This is the kind of relationship we want with employers who contract with the City.”

Since Denver’s Prevailing Wage ordinances were passed in the 1950s, the Auditor’s Office has been responsible for auditing City contracts to ensure workers are properly classified and compensated. The prevailing wage is set by the U.S. Department of Labor and Denver’s Office of Human Resources. When a worker’s wages fall below the legal wage, the Auditor’s Office collects the difference and distributes the back pay check to the affected worker. Often the restitution doesn’t happen until months, or even years, after the project ends. 

After he was elected, Auditor O’Brien beefed up measures to connect workers with their back pay checks. A section of his website lists workers his staff haven’t been able to locate. In the last six months, 20 of those workers have claimed their back pay checks. To find out if you’re owed pay, call 720-913-5000.

Denver Post story April 23, 2017
Colorado Statesman story April 25, 2017