AILA Quicktake #299: Big Win on Lawsuit Challenging DOL’s Prevailing Wage Rule

On December 14, a federal judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment against DOL’s interim final rule issued on October 8, 2020, that changed the prevailing wage rates. AILA Secretary Jeff Joseph explains the significance of this win.

Video Transcript

On Monday, the District Court in D.C. decided AILA's lawsuit in Purdue University, et al., v. Scalia, et al. that challenges the Department of Labor's rulemaking in regard to new wages. And essentially, we were making two arguments in that lawsuit. The first argument we were making was that the government should have gone through the proper procedures of notice and comment under the Administrative Procedures Act before implementing the rule. As you recall what the Department of Labor did in this rule was, they dispensed with notice and comment and went immediately to interim final rule and made the rule effective within 48 hours. And AILA challenged that rule on two substantive grounds. The first is notice and comment, the government should have gone through APA, and then the second is that we made several legal challenges to the rule, substantive legal challenges, based on the fact that methodology was faulty, that it contradicted the other areas of the law, and so we made several different challenges. What ended up happening with the case is that we agreed that with regard to the notice and comment claim, the APA rulemaking, that we would proceed straight to summary judgment. In other words, the court didn't need to decide the injunction or anything, we could move straight to summary judgement in that issue.

What you should also know, in terms of background, there were two other cases filed, challenging the wage rule. The first was filed by the Chamber, U.S. Chamber in the Northern District of California, and the second lawsuit was filed in New Jersey by tech companies. So, previous to the decision in the Department of Labor case, the Perdue case, we had two other courts that have already ruled that this rulemaking was illegal, that it should be set aside. So, why is our decision in Purdue University, et al., v. Scalia, et al. significant?

Because the court went a little bit further, this time on Monday, when they strike down the rule, not only did they agree with the other courts and find that the governments justifications for the dispensing with rulemaking were invalid and not sufficient to warrant the good-cause exception, but the court also ruled that the Department of Labor must reissue all prevailing wage determinations that relied on that rule methodology between October 8th and the date of the ruling.

So, that's where we are today, the rule has been set aside, we have been ordered to confer with attorneys for the dept of justice to come up with a sensible way to reissue these wages without creating further backlogs from the Department of Labor. So, you should stay tuned as soon as we know how the Department of Labor will handle the reissuances, we will let anyone in AILA know.

I want to take a moment and thank all the dozens of AILA members who helped out on this litigation from drafting comments and to assisting us with analyzing litigation to drafting pleadings and reviewing pleadings, numbers of AILA members helped.

Especially, I want to thank the director of litigation Jesse Bless, and my co-counsel Chuck Kuck and Greg Siskin. We couldn't have done it without all of the volunteers from AILA and I'm very proud of the effort AILA took in this case.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20121639.