Friday, June 6, 2008

New York Court Of Appeals Rules That Workers Have Common Law Right To Sue For Davis-Bacon Wages

Yesterday, the New York Court of Appeals (the State's highest court) ruled that workers have a common law right to sue for breach of contract to recover payments due as a result of the non-payment of prevailing wages on Federal public works projects. The case, which resolves a conflict between two cases from the Appellate Division, First Department, can be found here.

The court held that while there is no Federal private right of action under the Davis-Bacon Act (the "DBA"), the DBA does not specifically preempt or otherwise preclude workers from suing in State court for prevailing wages owed on Federal construction projects. The court opined that a finding of preemption, as urged by the Defendants, would have left the workers without any remedy since the Federal regulations implementing the DBA provide no administrative mechanism for the recovery of unpaid wages. Accordingly, the workers had no administrative remedies to exhaust, and could seek immediate relief in the New York courts.

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