January 23, 2024
The City of Phoenix (“City”) recently enacted a “Prevailing Wage” Ordinance (“Ordinance”) that regulates how contractors and subcontractors on public works projects pay their workers. The Ordinance requires these employers to pay their employers a “prevailing wage”—determined by the City Engineer based on complex tables set by the federal government—and it saddles them with burdensome record-keeping requirements. Moreover, violations of the Ordinance, including minor or inadvertent violations, can result in severe punishment: restitution, triple damages, withholding of contractual payments, and even disqualification from working on future public works contracts.
All of this is illegal. Arizona law clearly and expressly prohibits cities from enacting “prevailing wage” requirements for public works projects. What’s more, the Arizona constitution prohibits the government from depriving individuals or businesses of their rights without adequate legal safeguards, and the Ordinance gives an unelected bureaucrat—the City Engineer—virtually unchecked power to investigate and punish any contractor he believes has run afoul of the Ordinance’s requirements.
The Ordinance is invalid because it conflicts with both state law and the Arizona Constitution. The Goldwater Institute, together with co-counsel Robert G. Schaffer of Holden Willits PLC, has filed a lawsuit challenging it in Maricopa County Superior Court.
The Goldwater Institute, together with Robert G. Schaffer of Holden Willits PLC, is representing the Associated Minority Contractors of Arizona, the Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, and the Arizona Builders Alliance in a lawsuit against the City of Phoenix and several City officials responsible for enforcing the Ordinance. The City officials are being sued in their official capacities only.
The case is Associated Minority Contractors of Arizona v. City of Phoenix. The complaint was filed January 23, 2024, in Maricopa County Superior Court, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief invalidating the Ordinance in its entirety.
John Thorpe is a Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, where he litigates in the areas of education, free speech, economic liberty, government transparency, regulatory reform, and property rights. After graduating from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, John clerked for Judge Carolyn B. McHugh… Read more...
Jon Riches is the Vice President for Litigation for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation and General Counsel for the Institute. He litigates in federal and state trial and appellate courts in the areas of economic liberty, regulatory reform, free speech, taxpayer protections, public labor issues, government transparency, and school choice, among others.… Read more...
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