Client Alerts & Publications

D.C. Circuit Affirms Wage Law for Private Projects on Public Land

CityCenterDC is a mixed-use development project in the District of Columbia that is located on land owned by the District but leased to private developers. The private developers are funding the construction of CityCenterDC and have entered into construction contracts to build the Project. Those contracts did not contain a requirement for contractors to pay prevailing wages to all workers on the Project. The Department of Labor asserted that the contractors were responsible for paying Davis- Bacon Act rates. On April 5, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in District of Columbia v. Department of Labor1 affirmed that the Davis-Bacon Act2 is not applicable to this privately funded, owned, and operated project. The court rejected what it characterized as a novel Department of Labor argument that the CityCenterDC project is a public work.

The Davis-Bacon Act (now known as the Wage Rate Requirements (Construction) statute) requires contractors and subcontractors to pay prevailing wages on certain public projects. Specifically, the Act applies when the Federal Government or the District of Columbia enters into (or provides funding for) a contract in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair of a public building or public work of the Federal Government or the District of Columbia. When applicable, the Act requires that contractors and subcontractors pay all mechanics and laborers directly employed on the project site prevailing wages as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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