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Monday, March 30, 2020

Court Discusses the Prevailing Wage Act and Landscaping Work

Public bodies should take note of a recent appellate court decision interpreting the Prevailing Wage Act as it applies to landscaping work for public bodies and the importance of carefully drafting scope of work descriptions for projects that might be subject to the Prevailing Wage Act. Valerio v. Moore Landscapes, 2020 IL App (1st) 190185 (March 26, 2020).

In Valerio, 12 landscape laborers filed suit against Moore Landscapes for failing to pay them the prevailing wage for the tree planting work pursuant to its contracts with Chicago Park District. The trial court had dismissed the case but the appellate court reversed, finding that the plaintiffs allegations that the landscape work that plaintiffs were employed to do (planting trees and performing landscaping and related work for Chicago Park District) was subject to the Prevailing Wage Act was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.   
The Valerio decision reiterated the Department of Labor’s guidance concerning how public bodies do not comply with Section 4(a-1) of the Act by providing generalized statements that contractors must comply with all applicable laws or stating that contractors must comply with the Act to the extent it applies. Instead, public bodies are advised to specifically state whether or not a project is subject to the Act’s provisions.
With respect to landscaping, the rule about landscape maintenance not being subject to the Act remains intact (i.e., pruning a tree, tree removal, stump grinding, replacing a dead tree with a new one); likewise, landscape work is subject to the Act when it is a public works improvement project or part of one. In Valerio, the public works project was a new landscape with new trees and new hardscape work and, therefore, likely constituted a public work improvement project subject to the Act. 

Post Authored by Derke Price and Eugene Bolotnikov


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