Auditor: Every Dollar Matters to Denver’s Workers

By Timothy M. O’Brien, Denver Auditor

Every dollar matters to the people who work hard every day to support themselves, their families and their communities.

The people who produce our food, care for our loved ones when they are sick, teach our children, build and repair our city, and more. As Denver’s elected leaders consider how they will allocate the public’s dollars, I trust they will continue to support our important work to get every dollar earned into the pockets of workers.

Research shows when the minimum wage goes up, workers’ health dramatically improves. It also helps the business community by increasing worker productivity, decreasing turnover and ensuring fair competition.

Wage theft is one of the most frequent and costly crimes. The Colorado Fiscal Institute reports hundreds of thousands of workers have their wages stolen every year — including tens of thousands of Denverites. Women, low-wage workers, people of color and foreign-born workers are more likely to have their rights violated.

Many people who have their rights violated cannot afford a lawyer, don’t know how to bring a lawsuit themselves and fear retaliation. They need every dollar and cent they earned. That’s why my team and I work so hard to investigate and fight wage theft. In the last 10 months, we’ve collected more than $1,614,236 for 3,062 workers.

But one of the most frequent kinds of wage theft is when Denver workers are paid less than the city minimum wage — currently $17.29 per hour. I see other types of wage theft all too commonly as well: too many workers who aren’t paid overtime, don’t get paid sick leave or rest breaks, or don’t get paid for all the time they work. Some are never paid at all. Wage theft is incredibly harmful to the workers of Denver.

It costs individuals, families and our entire community a great deal. When people aren’t paid the money they earn, they are put in danger. When I have the necessary resources to recover money owed to workers, we can help keep workers on the right side of hunger, debt and eviction.

When workers are treated fairly and their rights are enforced, we all benefit. And wage theft doesn’t just hurt workers. It hurts businesses too.

All over Denver, employers want to follow the law, pay people right and provide good jobs. When their competitors cut costs by violating the law, it’s impossible to compete fairly. By collaborating to raise awareness and build trust in the community, we are helping to protect some of the most vulnerable people in Denver.

I am grateful to all the workers of Denver for their service to our communities, and for their trust in me to protect them from wage theft. I trust the mayor and City Council will also do their part year-round to support this growing area of need.

Elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 and 2023, Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, strives to bring greater clarity, transparency and accountability to Denver’s city government for its residents. Anyone who believes they are a victim of wage theft can file a complaint with his office at

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