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Improper Wage Rates on Public Works Construction Projects

Employees who work on a public works construction project for a town, a city or a state are entitled to certain special protections under the law. For example, Massachusetts has a prevailing wage law that sets a special minimum hourly rate for non-supervisory employees on public works projects.

If you are an employee performing construction work on a public works project and you are paid less than the prevailing wage law mandates, you have a legal right to pursue a claim for restitution of unpaid wages. An experienced Boston employment lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can assist you in pursuing a claim and getting the money the law entitles you to receive for your hard work.

Understanding Prevailing Wage Laws on Massachusetts Construction Projects

M.G.L. c.149, s. 26 sets for the prevailing wage law for employers on public works construction projects. Under this law:

  • The authority awarding a contract for a public construction project has to obtain a Prevailing Wage Sheet from the Department of Labor Standards before soliciting bids for public construction projects.
  • Prevailing wages for each public construction project that is undertaken are in effect for 90 days from the time when the prevailing wage rates are issued.
  • Projects that are not bid within the 90 days that the prevailing wage rates are valid will require the agency/entity awarding the project to request new prevailing wage rates.
  • After a project has been bid, the prevailing wage rates apply to all contracts resulting from that bid for the duration of the project, unless the project lasts for more than a year. If the project exceeds one year, the awarding authority that commissioned the project must request an annual update to the wage schedules.

Payments made by employers to pension plans; healthcare coverage and unemployment benefits are included in the wage laws set forth under the Massachusetts code, provided they were established under collective bargaining units or understandings between labor and employers. However, only the money contributed by an employer to a bona fide health and welfare plan, supplemental employment plan or pension can be deducted from the wage rate.

What Should I Do If My Employer Violated the Prevailing Wage Laws?

If your employer was in violation of prevailing wage laws, you may complete a Prevailing Wage Complaint Form and submit it to the Fair Labor Division of the Office of the Attorney General. In addition to general contact information for yourself and your employer, as well as details about the hours worked, you will need to include specific information about the public works project on which you worked. For example, you’ll be required to put in the project name and address, the name of the general contractor and project supervisor or foreman, and details about the type of work that you performed.

When the form has been completed and submitted, the Office of the Attorney General can pursue an investigation and seek remuneration on your behalf. You also have the option of pursuing other legal avenues to recover the prevailing wage payments you should have received from your employer, including filing a civil lawsuit to obtain compensation.

Getting Legal Help

Prevailing wage laws are designed to protect workers on public construction projects and an employer who has violated these laws has failed to live up to his obligation to workers on the job.

If you have been deprived of money you deserved to make because of your employer, contact the Boston employment lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for help pursuing your claim for compensation.

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