The Fourth Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined plaintiffs-employees were entitled to full payment of their supplemental (fringe) benefits in this Labor Law 220 action seeking the prevailing wage for public works projects:
Plaintiffs are members of a class of employees who allege that defendant failed to pay them prevailing supplemental (or fringe) benefits for work they performed on various public works contracts. * * *
Pursuant to Labor Law § 220 (3) (b), contractors undertaking a public works project must provide their employees with supplemental benefits “in accordance with prevailing practices for private sector work in the same locality” … . Supplemental benefits are defined as “all remuneration for employment paid in any medium other than cash, or reimbursement for expenses, or any payments which are not ‘wages’ within the meaning of the law, including, but not limited to, health, welfare, non-occupational disability, retirement, vacation benefits, holiday pay[,] life insurance and apprenticeship training” (§ 220  [b]). * * *
Consider, for example, a hypothetical contractor that fails to pay prevailing wages (as opposed to benefits) to its employees on a public works project, and then pays the shortfall in wages into a common fund out of which all of its employees are compensated, including those who are not prevailing wage workers. Due to the dilution of funds resulting from those funds also being paid to the nonprevailing wage workers, the employees who worked on the public works contracts would not receive the full wages they would be entitled to for their work on the public works project. Under that scenario, the contractor would clearly have failed to comply with Labor Law § 220 (3) (a), notwithstanding that the contractor paid the same amount in wages to a fund as it would have paid if the prevailing wage workers had been paid directly according to scale. We do not perceive any justification in law or logic for treating supplemental benefits differently from wages. Vandee v Suit-Kote Corp., 2022 NY Slip Op 04852, Fourth Dept 8-4-22
Practice Point: In an action pursuant to Labor Law 220 seeking the prevailing wage for public works projects, the employees are entitled to full compensation for supplemental (fringe) benefits, as well as wages.