Thursday, June 5, 2008

Even More Aggressive Enforcement Of New York Prevailing Wage Laws

New legislation has been enacted with respect to public contracts advertised or solicited after 4/27/08. The "Spota Bill," named after Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, is an exceedingly aggressive effort (eagerly supported and encouraged by organized labor) at enforcement of New York's prevailing wage laws.

Among other things, the Spota Bill requires the Department of Jurisdiction (usually the contracting agency) to collect and maintain payroll records for five years from the date of completion of the work. The Department of Jurisdiction must also designate in writing an individual to be responsible to collect certified payrolls and review them for facial validity; such person’s name must be posted in a conspicuous location at the project site.

Most importantly, the Bill also provides that: (a) a contractor that willfully fails to file payroll records with the Department of Jurisdiction is guilty of a Class E felony and subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per day; (b) the filing of payrolls with the Department of Jurisdiction is a condition precedent to payment; (c) willful underpayments can be punished as a criminal offense ranging from a Class A misdemeanor for an underpayment of less than $25,000 to a Class C felony where the amount exceeds $500,000; and (d) second violators within a 5 year period must surrender their profits and forfeit their right to receive further payment on the project.

WOW! This is serious business, folks. Heretofore, contractor violations were generally misdemeanors which were not pursued typically, and filing certified payrolls with the Department of Jurisdiction (although required) was generally overlooked by all parties involved. Now, we're talking about charging contractors with felonies for violations. Every contractor performing or thinking of performing public work in New York needs to become aware of these new requirements to avoid the potential disaster which is now lurking on every public project.

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