UPDATE: New bill could help wage theft, like in Curry Leaf case

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Priscilla Lopez, right, with former employee Gabrielle Levine in 2013. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Priscilla Lopez, right, with former employee Gabrielle Levine in 2013.

Update: Curry Leaf owner Lana Hillstrom left this voicemail message in response to our call:

"First of all, the issues that you guys caused for me was plenty enough," she says. "And Priscilla Lopez and all of those people that came forward, and you wrote those big, great stories about, I have restraining orders on every one of them, permanent ones, so they can’t even contact you regarding me to a third person. ... This BS needs to stop. You guys need to focus on businesses that are running illegally and doing stuff that they’re not [supposed to] and leave me alone ... because this bullshit’s gotta stop."

——— Original post: Tuesday, May 6, 5:08 p.m. ———

While the Curry Leaf restaurant continues to operate from its northern location, a former employee awaits restitution for the $600 she says she's still owed. However, a new bill recently passed by the Colorado Legislature, waiting to be signed by Gov. Hickenlooper, may help with future problems.

Senate Bill 005 "would allow a $50 minimum fine per day that an employee is not paid his or her earned wages," reads a press release from the Colorado House Democrats. "The state would also be able to assess a penalty, payable to the employee, of 125 percent of unpaid wages under $7,500 and 50 percent of unpaid wages over $7,500. Proof of an employer’s willful nonpayment would incur an additional 50 percent penalty."

This may end up helping former Curry Leaf cook Priscilla Lopez, but it's not currently doing much for the $600 in wages she says she was shorted.

"So [owner] Lana Hillstrom has managed to open the restaurant in another location, I’ve known about this for a few months," she writes in a May 2 email to the Indy. "But what i cannot fit in my head is HOW DOES SHE DO IT?! How does she get a place with what money? do they not do a background check on this woman???"

A message was left with an employee at the restaurant; we'll update this blog if we hear back from Hillstrom.

In the meantime, if you're wondering how House Republicans from El Paso County feel about fair wages, just know that none of them — including Reps. Mark Waller, Janak Joshi, Amy Stephens, Dan Nordberg, Lois Landgraf and Bob Gardner — supported the bill.

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