• Joseph Leiva, PE

D.C. Construction Workers Are Now Able to Collect up to 4x What They're Owed in Unpaid Wages

On August 24, 2018, United States District Judge DABNEY L. FRIEDRICH issued a memorandum opinion allowing District of Columbia construction workers to make claims against their employers for unpaid “prevailing wages.” This would allow workers to possibly collect up to 4X what they are owed in back wages. The law does not distinguish between underpaying by mistake and intentionally cheating workers, so compliance with prevailing wages for every worker on a project has taken on increased importance. That’s why savvy contractors seeking compliance with labor laws are turning to software like TargetDocs to track and review their subcontractor’s documents to minimize wage compliance mistakes.

What is a Prevailing Wage?

The local prevailing wage for government construction projects refers to wages set by Federal Law and incorporated into the Davis-Bacon Act and Related Acts. The Act also spells out the fringe benefits that laborers and mechanics must receive. This should not be confused with union scales and benefits or general minimum wages set by the United States Department of Labor. The Department of Labor sets prevailing wages based on the location and type of project. The current prevailing wages in the District of Columbia, including fringe benefits, are approximately:


● Laborers (PAVING AND INCIDENTAL GRADING): $19 - 21 per hour

● Power equipment operators (HEAVY AND HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION): $27 - 41 per hour

● Truck drivers (HEAVY & HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION): $24 - 26 per hour

The contractor must prominently display the correct wage scale at the work site. These wage determinations are periodically updated online at The wage determinations list the basic and fringe portions that must be paid for each classification. It should be noted that the prevailing minimum wage applies only to “physical work” that is done “on site.” Contractors are discovering that software such as TargetDocs is crucial for tracking and verifying their subcontractor’s prevailing wage compliance documents.

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