Federal Court Rules Against Labor Department in Wage Case

April 6, 2016



Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the workers who built CityCenterDC, a mixed-use development in the heart of the city, were not entitled to prevailing wages under the Davis-Bacon Act.

The Davis-Bacon Act is a federal law that applies to construction contracts for public works projects.

The court's decision said that CityCenterDC, which features upscale retail stores, restaurants, office space and upscale residences, is not a “public work” even though it does sit on land owned by the District of Columbia.

“To qualify as a public work, a project must possess at least one of the following two characteristics: public funding for the project’s construction or government ownership or operation of the completed facility, as with a public highway or public park,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the court’s decision. “Here, CityCenterDC’s construction was not publicly funded and CityCenterDC is not a government-owned or government-operated facility. So CityCenterDC is not a public work.”

The court's decision also clarified that because the District of Columbia had no input on the private construction contracts as it only rents the land to private developers, the project was not considered a public work. Had the court had ruled in favor of the Labor Department, workers on future privately funded, privately owned, and privately operated projects would have to be paid local prevailing wages if the city had some hand in leasing the property or approving how it’s used.

Source: The Hill