Labor Department investigating subcontractor on Trump’s Old Post Office project

Drew Hanson, Digital Editor
Updated Jun 27, 2016, 10:18am EDT

The Labor Department is investigating whether a subcontractor working on Donald Trump’s Old Post Office hotel underpaid employees working on the downtown D.C. project, according to The Washington Post.

A Labor spokesperson told the Post the agency is looking into whether Brentwood-based glass specialist The Craftsmen Group was paying wages below those required by federal law on government construction projects.

The investigation was first reported last week by Politico. Workers on the Pennsylvania Avenue construction site, including one Craftsmen employee, told Politico that they and others were not receiving wages mandated by the Davis-Bacon Act.

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Oregon Issues Rules In Advance Of New Minimum Wage Law

by Chris Lehman
June 15, 2016 5:56 p.m.
Updated: June 15, 2016 7 p.m.

Oregon employers have new guidance from the state on how much to pay their employees when the state’s minimum wage goes up next month. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries released rules Wednesday meant to clear up one of the questions surrounding the legislatively-approved minimum wage hike.

The state’s minimum wage goes up July 1, but the amount of the increase depends on where you work. The wage goes up 25 cents per hour in rural counties and 50 cents per hour everywhere else. Next year, the state moves to a three-tiered system which gives workers in the Portland metro area a higher rate than the rest of the state.

But what about workers whose job sometimes takes them across the boundaries of the state’s three-tiered minimum wage map? Employers are worried they’d have to keep meticulous track of how much time any given worker spent in any given place.

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False Claims Act Case (United States, et al. v. Circle C Construction) Decided by Court of Appeals

“We agree with the district court that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not foreclose plaintiffs’ FCA suit alleging Davis-Bacon Act violations where, as here, the government was not aware of the conduct at issue until after Wall filed his complaint, and thus did not deliberately bypass administrative procedures; the determination whether Circle C acted with the requisite intent to defraud the government in violation of the FCA does not necessitate technical, agency specific expertise; and the regulations explicitly provide that the falsification of payroll certifications may subject the contractor to civil prosecution under the FCA. Plaintiffs allege violations of the FCA under a false certification theory; this is not a dispute over how a particular type of work should be classified for purposes of wage determinations. Accordingly, deferral to  DOL was not warranted, and the district court properly declined to refer the case to the DOL pursuant to the primary jurisdiction doctrine…[W]e affirm the district court’s judgment with regard to liability, but reverse the award of damages and remand for a recalculation of the damages and further proceedings.”

 

(Read Decision Here)

Business-labor partnership tackles wage theft on public projects

By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota
February 22, 2016

ST. PAUL – A joint effort between contractors and building trades unions has led to stronger enforcement of state laws on public construction – making a big dent in cheating and recovering nearly $1 million in stolen wages and benefits.

The partnership could be a model for addressing wage theft in other industries.

The federal government adopted wage standards for taxpayer-funded construction projects in 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed the Republican-authored Davis-Bacon Act. In the decades since, many states, including Minnesota, and many local communities have followed suit.

Known as “prevailing wage” laws, these regulations require contractors bidding on publicly funded projects to pay wages and benefits in line with those of a particular location. In Minnesota, the state conducts surveys to determine the prevailing wages for different communities.

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Decisions of the DOL Administrative Review Board – April 2015

DAVIS-BACON ACT; ARB FINDS IN SPLIT DECISION THAT A BALANCING OF BENEFITS’ TEST APPLIES TO DETERMINE WHETHER AN EMPLOYER IS OBLIGATED TO REIMBURSE EMPLOYEES FOR LODGING EXPENSES

DAVIS-BACON ACT; REIMBURSEMENT FOR LODGING EXPENSES SHOULD BE BASED ON ACTUAL EXPENSES WHERE EMPLOYER LEFT IT TO EMPLOYEES TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES; PER DIEM MAY BE CONSIDERED, HOWEVER, WHERE IT WAS A PARTIAL PAYMENT FOR SUBSISTENCE COSTS

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(See Full Decision Here)

Sunshine Week: Beat reporter shines light on schools’ use of federal contracts

By Robert Brauchle

March 16, 2015

 

Reporter Ryan Murphy began 2014 with a tip that Isle of Wight County Schools may have skirted federal regulations in the construction of the new Georgie D. Tyler Middle School.

Using the state Freedom of Information Act to access copies of contracts, emails and bid documents, the Daily Press Isle of Wight County beat reporter found that the school division had omitted wage standards from the construction contract that are required under the federal Davis-Bacon Act. The effect was to lower the cost of construction by underpaying local workers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I spent a couple of months digging into the documents and digging into legislation to figure out exactly what had happened,” Murphy said.

Murphy worked with school administrators to get the documents he needed.

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Workers will get backpay for Windsor school construction

By Ryan Murphy
November 25, 2014, 9:43 PM | ISLE OF WIGHT

Isle of Wight County Schools will pay backpay for hundreds of workers on a school construction job in Windsor who were shorted after the school system failed to include federal wage requirements in contract documents.

The move comes seven months after a Daily Press investigation revealed that the school system had appeared to violate federal law by failing to include the pay rate clauses. The school system used $7.5 million in federally subsidized bonds for the job, which came with strings attached, including paying workers on a pay scale based on local prevailing wages.

The Labor Department opened an investigation into the issue in May. A department spokeswoman said Wednesday that the investigation was still open.
The Isle of Wight School Board approved an order at Monday’s work session to take steps to comply with the federal law, called the Davis-Bacon Act, and to compensate construction workers for the difference between what they were paid and what federal law said they should have been paid.

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US Labor Department recovers nearly $3M in back wages for workers on federally funded construction projects in New York City

Larino Masonry Inc. and owners debarred from bidding on federal contracts 

U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 14-2057-NEW, Date: Nov. 25, 2014

NEW YORK — The U.S. Department of Labor has secured $2,904,000 in back wages for laborers and mechanics who worked on federally funded construction projects in four New York City boroughs.

A federal administrative law judge approved a settlement requiring Larino Masonry Inc., based in Newark, New Jersey, to pay $1,945,000 in back wages to workers at projects in Manhattan and the Bronx for violating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. In a separate, but related case, Larino also agreed to an order to pay $959,000 to workers at projects in Brooklyn and Queens.

Larino admitted that it failed to pay its workers the legally required prevailing wage, fringe benefits and overtime, and submitted falsified certified payrolls to a contracting agency. In addition to paying back wages, Larino and its company president Juan Luis Larino and vice president Maria Larino have been barred from bidding on federal contracts for the next three years.

“Taxpayers should expect that federal contractors understand their obligations and comply with the law,” said Maria Rosado, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s New York City District Office, which investigated the federally funded projects. “When Larino Masonry or any other employer violates labor laws, they cheat their employees and gain an unfair advantage over employers who obey the law. We will hold them accountable.”

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City dinged on state audit for work with federal grant

By Cecilia Garza,  Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer 

Oct 9, 2014 at 1:23PM

According to a recent review by the Washington State Auditor’s Office, the city of Bainbridge Island is not meeting wage requirements set by one of its federal grant programs.

For the most part, the city complied with state laws and its own policies, the report said.

The audit, however, found that Bainbridge did not quite meet the requirements set by a federal grant for highway planning and construction.

The city’s practices “were inadequate to ensure compliance with federal Davis-Bacon Act (prevailing wage) requirements,” the report said.

The Davis-Bacon Act relates to contractors and subcontractors performing federally-funded projects. It requires that laborers employed under the contract be paid no less than the local prevailing wage and fringe benefits that is paid for similar projects in the area.

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Arizona Utility Subcontractor Debarred From Federally Funded Projects

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $198,085 in back wages for 23 workers employed by Glendale-based Tierra Contracting Inc. for willful violations of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. Tierra Contracting and its owner, Richard Juarez Sr., also have been debarred from applying for federally funded contracts for a period of three years because of the egregious nature of the violations found.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division in Phoenix established that Tierra Contracting failed to pay the required prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits to power equipment operators, water truck drivers, pipe layers, grade setters and laborers working at the federally funded Northern Parkway highway project in Maricopa County. Tierra Contracting routinely submitted certified payroll records that did not accurately reflect the real hours worked by the affected employees. Employees were paid for overtime hours with separate checks, off-the-record and at straight-time rates, without the additional time-and-a-half, as required.

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