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Unpaid Utah workers fight against wage theft

SALT LAKE CITY — Imagine putting in the hours at work, but then your boss refuses to pay you the wages you have earned.

It happens more than you might think, but forcing your boss to pay is not always a straightforward process.

In fact, according to public records the KSL Investigators requested from the Utah Department of Labor, 3,622 Utahns filed claims for unpaid wages in the last two years. Those claims total over $1.4 million.

“If you work an honest day for an honest wage, then you should get the wage you’re owed,” said Eric Olsen, spokesperson for the Utah Labor Commission — which does step in when workers get jilted.

But getting employers to do the right things is not always easy, or quick.

“Right now, we are closing about 75% of our claims within about 180 days,” said Olsen.

Eric Olsen of the Utah Labor Commission tells KSL’s Matt Gephardt that 75% of unpaid labor claims are closed within 180 days. (KSL TV)

Six months — and sometimes longer — is a long time to wait for people who need their paycheck.

Unpaid wages have also become a major source of business for a new startup company called Dispute.

“Yeah, we’ve seen a number of these cases,” said Dispute’s CEO and co-founder Mayank Gupta, adding that they are not a company of lawyers.

Instead, for rates lower than a lawyer might charge, they help their customers clear legal hurdles of filing cases in small claims court. But in unpaid wage claim issues, it is another service where Gupta said Dispute has seen a lot of success recently — by sending an official demand letter, ordering the company to pay the wages owed, or else.

“And it just really shows that if you don’t figure this thing out, this person (who is owed money) is going to be able to file in court and just make you show up to court,” said Gupta. “And we see 60% of our cases settled right away within two weeks.”

Filing an unpaid wage claim with the Utah Labor Commission is free, but regulators caution: don’t wait. There is a one-year statute of limitations, so if you procrastinate, they can’t help you.

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