Landscapers Due Day in Court for Prevailing Wage Act Claim
Bruce H. Schoumacher - Querrey & Harrow, Ltd. – Chicago, Illinois
The Illinois Appellate Court recently decided that the trial court should not have dismissed the claims of landscape laborers that they should be paid the prevailing wage for work they performed for a public body. Valerio v. Moore Landsapes, 2020 IL App (1st) 190185. There, the landscaper had entered into a contract with a public park district to plant new trees. The landscaper paid its laborers $18.00 per hour for the work. The applicable prevailing wage for laborers set by the Illinois Department of Labor was $41.20 per hour.
The laborers sued their employer for the wages due them pursuant to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, 820 ILCS 130/11. The trial court dismissed the suit because the employer alleged that (1) the Wage Act specified that the district should have stated in its contract that the work was subject to the Wage Act, but the park district failed to do so and (2) the park district advised the employer that the Wage Act was not applicable to the work.
On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court, set aside the order dismissing of the suit and remanded the case to the trial court for trial. The appellate court noted that the intent of the Wage Act was to assure that all laborers on public projects should be paid the prevailing wage for construction work. The failure of the park district to state that the Wage Act applied to the work and the park district’s statement that the work was not subject to the Act could not be used to find that the Act was not applicable to the work performed by the landscaper.