Prevailing wage laws, such as the Davis Bacon Act, exist to ensure that construction workers, including those working on federal projects, are paid the correct amount. If a contractor makes a false statement about paid wages, they may be in violation of the False Claims Act and subject to a Qui Tam action. With offices in Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ, and Newark, NJ, the attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C can help you if you have not been paid correctly for your work in New Jersey.
Understanding Prevailing Wage Laws in New Jersey
Prevailing wage laws require that contractors and subcontractors on public jobs pay the majority of their employees the local minimum amount. The prevailing wage acts as a minimum wage for construction workers working on certain areas in public projects, and it prevents workers from getting cheap, non-local labor.
The Davis Bacon Act was enacted to provide wage protections for construction workers when working on federal projects. The act requires contractors and subcontractors to pay their employees the prevailing local wage and fringe benefits on work that’s federally funded or federally assisted that involves public works. This law covers many public projects such as construction, repairs, improvements on projects like highways, airports, railways, etc.
The way the government enforces the Davis-Bacon Act is by requiring contractors and subcontractors to submit certified payroll records on a weekly basis to the government agency in charge of the project. Following this, contractors have to classify each employee based on the type of work they perform, and then pay the individual according to the appropriate rate that is set by the Department of Labor for each type of work.
Contractors also have the responsibility of making sure that subcontractors follow the prevailing wage rates and submit weekly payroll reports to the government or prime contractor.
Not Getting Paid Correctly?
If you have a feeling your check doesn’t look right, and feel as if you’re not getting paid the correct way, the first thing you should do is contact the prime contractor. It could just be a mistake that’s easily fixable. Most of the time the issue can be resolved in house if it’s just a misunderstanding. If this doesn’t work, it might be a good idea to get in touch with the US Department of Labor, or your state’s Department of Labor. For federal jobs, call the Department of Labor or visit your local DOL. Once the process begins, the Department of Labor will start the process of investigating.
The False Claims Act
Under the False Claims Act, private individuals are incentivized to report any fraudulent acts against the government in what is known as a qui tam action. Employees who speak out against fraud by their employer are protected from retaliation which can lead to termination, demotion, or harassment. Whistleblowers may also receive financial rewards under the False Claims Act if their allegations are later deemed valid.
The False Claims Act & Prevailing Wages
In order to be qualified for federal construction projects, contractors have to hold a certification that each laborer or mechanic has not been paid less than the necessary wage rates, and are in compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act. If the contractor gives a false certification stating that their workers were paid the correct wage rates in correlation to the Davis Bacon Act, then they are subjected to FCA (False Claims Act) liability.
The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to file a Qui Tam lawsuit for David-Bacon certifications that are false, which means that a whistleblower can pursue action against a defendant and is entitled to a percentage of the recovery amount. The exact amount that can be recovered depends on whether or not the government intervenes in the action. False Claims Act cases must also be filed within 6 years of the violation, or within 3 years of when the individual should reasonably know that the violation occurred.
Whistleblower Protections For Qui Tam Actions
The law requires that complaints must be filed under seal to protect the identity of the person who brings the complaint. The person’s complaint will remain confidential as long as the case is under seal or until the lawsuit is settled. By filing under seal, the whistleblower remains protected from retaliation such as demotion or termination. In addition, federal law prohibits employers from taking any action against employees who have filed a lawsuit under the False Claims Act.
Contractors and subcontractors are required on certain government contracts to pay eligible workers overtime. Employees who are not receiving 1.5 times the normal pay for hours worked over 40 hours per week, you should consider contacting one of our attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C
Get Help From Qualified New Jersey Prevailing Wage & FCA Attorneys
At the law office of McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C., our prevailing wage and False Claims Act attorneys in New Jersey are available to help you. If you feel as if you have not been paid the correct amount, or are looking to file a False Claim Act case, please contact our lawyers today for a free consultation to discuss the best course of action.