Working for Justice

Are You A Construction Worker On A Federal Project Who Was Not Paid Davis Bacon Wages? That May Be a Violation of the Federal False Claims Act

Posted December 4th, 2017 by in Whistleblower Law.

The Davis-Bacon Act, 40 U.S.C. §§ 3141-3148, requires that contractors and subcontractors on federal construction projects pay their employees the prevailing wage rate for their job classification as determined by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. The Davis-Bacon Act is a protective labor law that requires certain federal government contracts “for construction, alteration, and/or repair of public buildings or public works of the United States” to contain a provision stating “the minimum wages to be paid various classes of laborers and mechanics.” If you worked on a federal project, but you were not paid Davis-Bacon wages, you may have the right to file a federal False Claims Act case.

The False Claims Act provides that individuals who have information that a federal contract was not performed in accordance with federal law may file a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government to recover money that the government should not have paid because the contractors violated some parts of the contract. The person who brings such a case on behalf of the federal government is known as a “whistleblower.” In order to encourage individuals to become “whistleblowers” and expose how the government has been defrauded, the False Claims Act provides that the “whistleblower” may receive from 15% to 30% of any financial recovery owed to the government because of the fraudulent behavior. The recovery may also include fines of $5,000 to $11,000 for each false claim.

The Davis-Bacon Act requires that every federal contract entered for a government construction project shall contain a stipulation that the contractor or its sub-contractor shall pay all mechanics and laborers employed directly upon the site of the work not less than once a week, and without subsequent deduction or rebate on any account, the full amounts of which are accrued at time of payment.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division form, “Payroll (For Contractor’s Optional Use),” provides that, each week, the federal contractor and subcontractor must certify that the payrolls are correct and complete and that each laborer or mechanic has been paid not less than the proper Davis-Bacon prevailing wage for the work performed. If this certification is false, because the workers were not paid appropriately, that may be a basis for a whistleblower claim in accordance with the False Claims Act.

The Davis-Bacon Act recognizes the varying costs of living throughout the United States and as a result, the Davis-Bacon rates are different in various geographic areas of the United States. The government contractor must submit copies of payroll records on a weekly basis to the contracting agency, along with a statement certifying that the payroll information is correct and complete and that the workers have been paid “not less than the applicable wage rates … for the classification of work performed.” Most importantly, federal regulations further provide that falsification of these certifications may be the subject of liability under the False Claims Act. Therefore, you may file a False Claims Act case seeking payment for back wages for you and all the other crew members whose wages were not appropriately adjusted to the costs of living in your geographic location.

Additionally, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides that employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a work week at a rate not less than time and one-half of their regular rates of pay. Failure to pay overtime may also be a violation of the Davis-Bacon Act and provide a reason for filing a False Claims Act case.

If you did not receive Davis-Bacon wages when you worked on a federal construction site, you may become a whistleblower and file a False Claims Act case seeking a financial recovery which may include lost wages for the entire crew as well as fines that range from $5,000 to $11,000 for each false statement.

Altomease Kennedy

Altomease Kennedy

Altomease R. “Al” Kennedy is an Of Counsel in the Washington, DC office of Sanford Heisler Sharp. Ms. Kennedy’s long history of successful representation of False Claims Act whistleblowers makes her particularly effective when working for clients in cases under investigation by the United States government. Learn More

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