Bergman v. Monarch Constr. Co., 2010-Ohio-622, 2010 Ohio LEXIS 444 (Ohio Supreme Court Mar. 2, 2010)

Prevailing wage law penalties are mandatory in an employee-initiated enforcement action.

Chapter 4115 of the Ohio Revised Code requires contractors and others to pay prevailing wages on construction projects involving public improvements. Section 4115.13(C) provides that employees who were paid less than the prevailing wage in such projects "may recover . . . the difference between the [prevailing wage] and the amount paid to the employee and in addition thereto a sum equal to twenty-five per cent of that difference." The offending contractor must also pay a 75% penalty to the Ohio Director of Commerce. The Ohio Supreme Court held in this case that the term "may" in the statute does not mean that the award of penalties is discretionary with the trial judge. Rather, the penalties are mandatory even when an employee, as distinguished from the Department of Commerce, initiates the enforcement action.

Case Law Alert - 2nd Qtr 2010