Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Act Is Not Preempted By Federal Law

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that the state prevailing wage statutes are not preempted by federal railway law and lowers the pleadings threshold for employees pursuing unpaid prevailing wage claims.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

SUMMARY: (court decision – opens in PDF)

“Because the defendants’ argument is unsupported by the plain language of the ICCTA, and because the argument runs counter to the long-established principle that, in the absence of a clear expression otherwise, we must presume that Congress did not intend to preempt a State’s exercise of its historic police powers, we conclude that the defendants have failed to show that the Prevailing Wage Act is preempted,”

At this point in the litigation, Marsh need not prove that he performed work on “public works” projects. See Lanier, 490 Mass. at 43 (at pleading stage, plaintiff need only set forth “allegations plausibly [that] suggest that the plaintiff is entitled to relief”). In his complaint, Marsh alleges that MCR contracted with the Commonwealth on public works projects, including, inter alia, the South Coast Rail project to restore commuter rail access, that he was employed by MCR and worked on such projects as a laborer operating equipment such as backhoes, tampers, boom trucks, and loaders, and that he was not paid the applicable prevailing wage when he performed work on these projects. The factual allegations “‘plausibly suggest[]. . .’ an entitlement to relief.”



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