Protecting your right to fair wages
In California, prevailing wage is a term that refers to the rate that is most often paid to the bulk of workers performing in a certain craft or doing a certain kind of work within a particular geographic area. California laws on prevailing wages may apply to private development projects when they can be considered a public works project. Prevailing wages are published once each quarter by the California Department of Industrial Relations, setting the minimum wage rates payable for construction work involving California public works. The purpose of prevailing wage law is to ensure that you are being fairly compensated for your work on public projects. When you are not being fairly compensated, whether under prevailing wage requirements rate calculations or any other measure of fairness, reach out to the California labor and employment lawyers at Aiman-Smith & Marcy to discuss your situation, as there may be a legal resolution to your problem.
Common questions about laws and lawsuits involving prevailing wage issues:
How do laws relating to the California prevailing wage affect my rights?
Many jobs that involve government contracts must follow certain prevailing wage calculations. Read Public Works Subject to Prevailing Wage Law to learn more. If you are working on a project that may be defined as a public works project, California prevailing wage law calculations apply. Prevailing minimum wages on government projects are higher than those for most comparable private sector jobs. Many people are not aware of this. You may be receiving less pay than you are qualified to receive without knowing it.
What is the prevailing rate to use when state minimum wages disagree with federal minimum wages?
Federal minimum wage law supersedes state minimum wage laws when the federal minimum wage is greater than the state minimum wage. In those states where the state minimum wage is greater than the federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage prevails. For more information, see the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division page.
What if there is no single rate being paid to the majority of workers in my area?
When there is no apparent generally accepted standard for paying a certain type of work in your area, then an alternative definition of prevailing rate applies—the common rate being paid to the greatest number of workers. Calculating the common rate may involve averaging or expanding the rate comparison to a larger geographical area.
Do prevailing wage rates apply to all jobs?
No—just to certain jobs related to government projects. To see if your craft or industry is among the basic trades to which these rates apply in most California counties, see general prevailing wage determinations made by the director of industrial relations on California’s Department of Industrial Relations site.
How can I get more California prevailing wage information?
First, if you are researching the issue because you have a wage dispute with an employer, we encourage you to speak with a California wage lawyer at Aiman-Smith & Marcy about your situation. There is no charge for this consultation. If your information request is academic in nature, you can learn more about California prevailing wage law and wage and hour law at these sites:
- California government’s online State Administrative Manual
- California Prevailing Wage Rates
- Davis-Bacon Wage Determinations for California — county listings of prevailing wages in several job sectors under the Davis-Bacon Act and related acts of law
- Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division page
Please speak to a prevailing wages attorney in California at Aiman-Smith & Marcy.
We are dedicated to supporting your right to get paid according to the prevailing wages in your area. If you are facing unfair labor practices on the part of your employer, please call our office at 510-817-2711 or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our attorneys, Randall Aiman-Smith, Reed Marcy or Hallie Von Rock. Our office is located near the Oakland Coliseum off Highway 880, 66th Avenue exit. We welcome the opportunity to review and discuss your legal concerns.