Employment Law

Prevailing Wage Claims

By September 3rd, 2021 No Comments
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If you work for an employer specializing in public contracting work, you should know of the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act. Under this Act, the employer should stick to specific minimum hourly rates. It requires that every contracting surplus to the prevailing wage contract threshold for all public work be covered by the Act.

Although specific technical definitions and circumstances exist, contact New Jersey employment law attorneys if you think that your employer does not pay the prevailing wage for the tasks you handle.

More about the Prevailing Wage Act

The public organization must provide specific details by confirming with the Commissioner of Labor the prevailing wage in the area where the task is performed for every craft covered by the contract. The contract has to highlight the particular prevailing wages to avoid any misinformation and inconveniences. However, some employers try to exploit the prevailing wage act through crude methods, including:

  • Coercion
  • Threats
  • Intimidation

Some employers may threaten to fire you if you complain about the amount they offer. In some cases, they may falsify accounting, hours, and rates. Some even employ undocumented employees who often have no option other than working in silence.

Under the Act, any employer who dismisses or discriminates against an employee or worker who raises a complaint regarding the employer covered by the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act or a commissioner or public body may institute private action.

As an employee, you can sue directly for wages owed to you and other workers in a class action. Suppose there is any form of retaliation against the employees for speaking out. In that case, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) may also cover it since the Prevailing Wage Act is a public law in New Jersey.

What Do Prevailing Wage Laws Cover?

Under the prevailing wage laws, contractors who win specific government service and construction contracts pay a local minimum amount to all their employees. This amount is referred to as the prevailing wage. Prevailing wage laws exist to protect workers from contractors and subcontractors who bid low on government contracts to pay the workers less than what they would earn from non-government contracts.

However, workers only earn prevailing wages from contracts that exceed specific amounts for municipalities and other public contracts such as public utilities and the board of education.

What if an Employer Does Not Pay Prevailing Wage?

Employers try to dodge paying the prevailing wage in many different ways. They include:

  • Misclassification of employees through job titles and seniority to pay lower wages
  • Application of standard paycheck deductions such as payroll tax
  • Falsifying timesheets or hours worked
  • Using the employees’ ignorance of the law to avoid paying prevailing wages

The good news is the act protects workers through different enforcement mechanisms. If your employer does not pay the prevailing wage rate, you can file a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor. They will investigate and issue administrative penalties against the employer if they violate the Act.

They will also have to pay the difference between what they paid to the workers and the prevailing wage. You can also file a lawsuit against the employer for costs, wages, and attorney’s fees.

Have you or your loved one been denied a medical leave request you qualify for? Contact New Jersey employment law attorneys today for assistance.

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