By Joel Hillan
DENVER (CBS4)– A nail technician in Denver filed a class action lawsuit in federal court on Thursday, accusing her former employer, Ella Bliss Beauty Bar LLC, of systematic wage theft.
“I just want justice, I do want my retribution, but mostly I just want them to know that it is illegal and it’s wrong and they can’t get away with it,” said plaintiff Lisa Miles.
Miles worked for the Ella Bliss Beauty Bar in Denver giving manicures and pedicures, but she claims employees had do other jobs and didn’t get paid for them.
“For no pay whatsoever, they have to clean the business, including the bathrooms because Ella Bliss Beauty Bar is simply too cheap to pay its workers the money they deserve,” said Mile’s attorney Mari Newman.
Newman is part of the legal team that filed the class action lawsuit in Federal Court on behalf of Miles and other workers at the store.
“Instead of paying the workers for every hour that they work, they pick and choose and only pay for the hours they feel like paying,” said Newman.
The complaint charges Ella Bliss requires employees to arrive early to work, but doesn’t compensate them for that time.
Miles claims for the hours worked and services provided, the numbers don’t add up.
“They don’t factor in that you are going to actually check and look at your paycheck and do the numbers.”
Newman says the problem is not with the laws themselves, but with the businesses who violate them without retribution.
“The laws exist, the problem is that employers who believe they can get away with it, break the laws time and time again because they hope that workers will not be strong enough or not have the resources to stand up for their rights.”
Ella Bliss Beauty Bar co-owners Brooke Vanhavermaat and Kelly Huelsing issued this statement on Thursday afternoon:
“Ella Bliss Beauty Bar is a small, female-owned business. We founded this company because we wanted to grow a small business, create jobs and empower other women, and we have been successful in that. We’re disappointed with the allegations made within this lawsuit and stand firm that none of the complaints alleged were ever brought to our attention, and I can assure you that they are absolutely not true. Our employees are an extension of our family, and we treat them fairly and with the utmost respect.”
According to a report by the Colorado Fiscal Institute, it’s estimated that Colorado workers lose an estimated $750 million to wage theft.
Miles hopes this will give other workers in all industries the courage to come forward and fight against wage theft. If you feel like you have been a victim, you can contact the legal non-profit Towards Justice and they will answer your questions confidentially and free of charge.