Enhancing Enforcement Efforts Against Contractors Who
Fail to Pay Prevailing Wages on Public Works Contracts
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on Friday, June 22, 2018, that this summer his office will be increasing its enforcement efforts against contractors who fail to pay workers the prevailing wage applicable to public works contracts. As part of those enhanced efforts, District Attorney’s investigators will be visiting jobsites throughout the County where public works projects are underway, in order to determine whether prevailing wage laws are being followed.
Under New York’s prevailing wage law, contractors who undertake construction projects on behalf of public agencies, including counties and municipalities, are required to pay workers specified minimum wages and to provide minimum fringe benefits, which are intended to be commensurate with wages and benefits paid to workers involved in the construction industry. Unscrupulous contractors, however, often fail to pay the prevailing wage, either directly, by simply undercutting the state-required prevailing wage; or indirectly, by, for example, failing to provide required fringe benefits, paying workers “off the books” and not reporting the wages that were actually paid, and misclassifying workers so that it appears they are entitled to lower prevailing wages. Failure to pay minimum wages and provide minimum benefits is a violation of the State’s Labor Law, and can result in criminal sanctions, including fines and imprisonment, and in a contractor’s being barred from bidding on or contracting for public works projects.
This past May, the District Attorney’s Office joined the Wage-Theft Task Force, a group of government agencies throughout the lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island, dedicated to addressing violations of the Labor Law. The Task Force seeks to combat prevailing-wage violations, among other employment crimes, throughout its area of operation.
“Prevailing wage laws are designed to protect workers from unscrupulous public-works contractors,” said District Attorney Hoovler, “so that those workers are paid a decent wage and provided with decent benefits. Dishonest contractors, however, in an effort to make that extra buck, often illegally undercut the required prevailing wages and benefits, to the detriment of the honest workers that they have hired. This year’s building season is now in full swing, and contractors should be on notice that in Orange County we intend to fully enforce the prevailing wage laws. Contractors would be well-advised to make sure that they are following those laws, on contracts with the County, municipalities, or any other public agency.”