Cook Brown is preeminent in the field of prevailing wage law in California. The firm is known for its work in training and advising employers on prevailing wage obligations and for providing representation in related administrative proceedings and civil litigation.
California’s prevailing wage law covers not only the payment of wages but also regulates the payment of fringe benefits, holiday pay, travel and subsistence pay, and recordkeeping. State law also mandates the employment of apprentices. The penalties for non-compliance with prevailing wage and apprentice obligations are stiff.
Similarly, the Davis-Bacon Act regulates the compensation of workers on federally funded construction projects.
Determining whether a project falls under the definition of “public works” can be a complex exercise involving statutory and regulatory analysis and interpretation of development agreements, bid and contract documents, funding sources, and opinion letters. Awarding bodies, developers, and contractors regularly rely on Cook Brown to assist them in determining whether their projects are covered by the prevailing wage law and to represent them in coverage disputes at the administrative and trial and appellate court level.
A common area of dispute on public works projects is whether certain types of work are covered by the prevailing wage law. These disputes include the coverage of off-site hauling and fabrication, as well as on-site testing, monitoring and inspection work. Cook Brown attorneys have substantial experience in analyzing whether particular types of work are covered by the prevailing wage law and in litigating such issues before the Department of Industrial Relations and in court.
Another commonly disputed aspect of the prevailing wage law involves the identification of the appropriate job classification under which workers should be paid. The selection process is often complicated by jurisdictional disputes between trade unions whose scopes of work are incorporated into particular prevailing wage determinations. Misclassification of workers can lead to significant wage and penalty assessments. Our prevailing wage attorneys help guide employers through the maze of classification issues and assist in selecting the appropriate classifications to use and wage rates to pay. Businesses rely on Cook Brown to assist them in ascertaining which of their employees is entitled to prevailing wage.
Our attorneys are extremely well versed in the complicated regulatory framework that governs apprenticeship obligations on state and federal public works projects. They represent apprenticeship program sponsors, as well as prime and subcontractors who are obligated to employ apprentices on state public works jobs. We advise and guide employers on what their apprenticeship obligations are, including their duty to timely notify the appropriate apprenticeship programs that they have been awarded a public works contract, to request the dispatch of apprentices, and to pay and employ apprentices in accordance with applicable apprenticeship regulations.
We also have had significant success litigating apprentice issues at the appellate court level, obtaining favorable rulings on issues ranging from the geographic expansion of apprenticeship programs to jurisdiction disputes involving the selection of apprentices from an appropriate apprenticeship program.