Prevailing Wage Laws
The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley represents clients in connection with prevailing wage issues or claims under federal and state laws. Prevailing wage laws typically mandate the payment of wages at or above specified wage rates for certain employers who hold contracts with the federal or state government. Failing to pay wages consistent with those rates can result in substantial legal liabilities. The attorneys with our Firm have substantial knowledge and experience with prevailing wage laws and can provide you the legal counsel you need to understand these varying wage and hour rights and obligations.
Missouri Prevailing Wage Law
Under Missouri law, contractors on public works contracts valued over $75,000 must pay their workers prevailing wage rates for various types of actual construction work performed on worksites. See § 290.210 et seq. RSMo. In particular, Missouri’s prevailing wage law provides: “not less than the prevailing hourly rate of wages for work of a similar character in the locality in which the work is performed or the public works contracting minimum wage, whichever is applicable, shall be paid to all workers employed by or on behalf of any public body engaged in the construction of public works, exclusive of maintenance work.” § 290.230.1(1) RSMo.
Missouri prevailing wage law also contains a provision requiring double prevailing wage rate pay “[f]or all work performed on a Sunday or a holiday,” with “holiday” including New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. See § 290.230.1(2) RSMo.
Missouri prevailing wage law further provides for special overtime rules and pay. Like the overtime requirement under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), one and one-half is the multiplier to be applied to the wage rate for “overtime work”; however, unlike the FLSA, Missouri prevailing wage law defines overtime more broadly as including “work that exceeds ten hours in one day and work in excess of forty hours in one calendar week.” § 290.230.1(3) RSMo.
However, the Missouri prevailing wage law has its limitations. For example, the statute specifically states: “[o]nly workers that are directly employed by contractors or subcontractors in actual construction work on the site of the building or construction job shall be deemed to be employed upon public works.” § 290.230.2 RSMo.; see also Long v. Interstate Ready-Mix, LLC, 83 S.W.3d 571, 576-77 (Mo. Ct. App. 2002) (noting this statutory provision limits the class of workmen entitled to the prevailing rate). Further, the actual construction work performed must generally occur on the worksite itself, subject to some limited exceptions. Id.; 8 C.S.R. 30-3.020(2).
The Missouri prevailing wage law also only applies to the performance of “actual construction work” consistent with the classification of construction work and the specific occupational titles enumerated within Missouri regulations. See § 290.230.2 RSMo.; 8 C.S.R. 30-3.040, 30-3.060. The law itself states “maintenance work” is excluded, as well as the hauling or transportation of materials or equipment to the site of construction (where there is no phase of construction involved in such transportation). §§ 290.230.1(1), 290.230.4 RSMo.
Our attorneys have successfully handled many cases under Missouri’s Prevailing Wage Law and can help advise you regarding your rights and obligations thereunder.
Federal Prevailing Wage Laws: Davis-Bacon and Related Acts
Under federal law, several different statutes mandate, or incorporate mandates for, the payment of prevailing wages and fringe benefits under certain types of federal government contracts. These statutes include the Davis-Bacon Act (“DBA”), the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (“SCA”), and other related statutes like the Federal-Aid Highway Act (“FAHA”). Many other federal statutes—like the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (“CWHSSA”), the Copeland “Anti-Kickback” Act (“CAKA”), and the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (“WHPCA”)—impose additional requirements related to work hours and the payment of wages pursuant to federal government contracts. Nonetheless, the prevailing wage requirements of these laws are generally enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.
The DBA serves to protect “local wage standards by preventing contractors from basing their bids on wages lower than those prevailing in the area.” Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. v. Chao, 508 F.3d 1052, 1055 (D.C. Cir. 2007). It applies to contractors and subcontractors with federally funded or assisted contracts valued over $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works. See 40 U.S.C. § 3142. It mandates the prevailing wage for certain work to be paid to workers performing under those contracts: “the contractor or subcontractor shall pay all mechanics and laborers employed directly on the site of the work, unconditionally and at least once a week, and without subsequent deduction or rebate on any account, the full amounts accrued at time of payment, computed at wage rates not less than those stated” in the contract. Id.
If a contractor fails to pay such wages, the federal government can terminate its contract and recover from the contractor (or its sureties) any costs incurred by the government in doing so. See 40 U.S.C. § 3143. Even if the government does not elect to terminate the contract, it may pay wages to the workers directly by withholding from payments under the contract. See 40 U.S.C. § 3144(a)(1). In certain circumstances, workers may also have a right to bring their own cause of action for unpaid wages. See 40 U.S.C. § 3144(a)(2).
In addition to these remedies, the federal government maintains a list of persons and contractors who have been found to have violated such contract terms and who have, as a result, been disqualified from other contracts for three (3) years. See 40 U.S.C. § 3144(b). For these and other reasons, it is critical to ensure that, if you hold a federal contract covered by the DBA or its related acts, you fully understand your rights and obligations as they pertain to payment of workers’ wages.
Please do not hesitate to contact our attorneys regarding a state or federal prevailing wage dispute at (314) 645-4100 or by email at email@example.com.