February 18, 2022

Venable Prevails in Davis-Bacon Wage Dispute on Behalf of JWA

2 min

On behalf of firm client James W. Ancel, Inc. (JWA), Venable successfully conducted a trial and prepared the related post-trial briefings before the Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) in a dispute regarding the prevailing wage provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act.

The dispute arose from JWA’s contract with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to construct the Kirk Avenue Bus Depot in Baltimore. To install the concrete portion of the project, JWA subcontracted with a contractor specializing in concrete installation and demolition. As JWA completed the project, the DOL initiated a Davis-Bacon Act investigation of JWA’s concrete subcontractor and concluded that the subcontractor failed to pay its employees prevailing wages and did not maintain proper time records or payrolls. At the conclusion of the investigation and despite JWA’s successful completion of the project, the DOL instructed MTA to withhold approximately $2.1 million from JWA, the alleged amount of back wages owed to the subcontractor’s underpaid workers.

During the trial, to challenge this withholding from JWA, Venable reconstructed the project records that the subcontractor should have maintained and confirmed through the examination of project workers and MTA officials the actual size of the subcontractor’s daily workforce and the type of work that the workforce performed.  These steps allowed the OALJ to properly calculate the appropriate prevailing wage.  Through the submission of this evidence and the application of Davis-Bacon Act regulations, Venable was able to show that the DOL had grossly overstated the amount to be withheld. Based on the evidence presented, DOL OALJ Chief Administrative Law Judge Stephen R. Henley ordered that the DOL pay over $1.7 million of the $2.1 million withheld from JWA.

The Venable team was led by Doug Proxmire.