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Challenging Phoenix’s Burdensome, Illegal Prevailing Wage Mandate

Associated Minority Contractors of Arizona et al. v. City of Phoenix et al.

Case Status

Date Filed

January 23, 2024

Last Step

Filed complaint.

Next Step

Awaiting response.

Case Overview

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.

Case Logistics

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.

Case Documents

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