Combatting Wage Theft

Protecting Day Laborers

Our Partnership

Sixty-two percent of Latino day laborers in the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area have experienced wage theft, but fewer than 40 percent ask for assistance. To help understand this and protect day laborers from exploitation, we worked with scholars from the University of California, Los Angeles to research this phenomenon. Through scholarship focused on the public good, we hope to advance the understanding of issues facing minority workers and improve economic outcomes.

About Our Research

We leverage cross-institutional collaboration to address some of today’s most pressing challenges, producing interdisciplinary solutions that influence policymakers to effectively serve the public good. From Stanford to UChicago to NYU, we’ve refined our collaborative process through years of mutually beneficial relationships with institutions nationwide to understand and address challenges like climate change, HIV and youth homelessness.

DU’s current research efforts have been featured in news outlets like The New York Times. They include…

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About the Project

This project was undertaken with the goal of conducting worker outreach, informing legislation and improving enforcement of laws around wage theft, particularly in relation to day laborers. Our research drew on interviews with 170 workers, along with surveys of an additional 410. We also worked extensively with attorneys, non-profits, employers and politicians, and took part in direct-action work with a volunteer group assisting workers pursuing their unpaid wages.

Additional partnerships have been with the Colorado Wage Theft Task Force, the day labor center El Centro Humanitario, the City of Denver and DU's Sturm College of Law, which has helped connect workers to pro-bono legal representation.

More than 50 DU students took part in the project as researchers, direct-action volunteers helping workers recoup stolen wages, and outreach volunteers informing workers of their rights and connecting them to legal assistance.

​​​​​​Discover Research at DU

Rebecca Galemba

An assistant professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, Rebecca Galemba teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Qualitative Research Methodologies, Cultures of Development, Migration, and Illicit Markets. She is also the Director of the Latin America Center at DU, and her community-engaged scholarship has examined the intersections of globalization, illicit markets, migration, security, and labor in Mexico, Central America, and the U.S.