Last year I wrote about the case of Caldas v. Affordable Granite & Stone, Inc. (AGS), in which I explained how the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the employees who actually did work for the City of Minneapolis were not the intended beneficiaries of the prevailing wage provision of the construction contract.
I am happy to report that my friend, attorney Justin Cummins, almost singlehandedly pushed through new legislation to amend the applicable statutes, Minn. Stat. sections 181.13 and 181.14, to overturn this decision and provide greater protections for Minnesota employees as it relates to their pay. The laws, as amended, can be found here.
The amendments themselves do a number of things. First, they clarify that employees who are hired to do the work are the intended beneficiaries of a prevailing wage rate provision in a contract between the employer and a third party, or when otherwise set by law. So when someone hires a your company to perform a service, and the contract or some other law provides for how much you will be paid, you have the right to seek relief.
Second, the amendments also restore an employee’s substantive right to sue an employer when it fails to pay wages or commissions the employee has earned. The Minnesota Supreme Court had previously held that these were nothing more than “timing” statutes that did not provide a party with a substantive claim to recover these amounts.
Third, the amendments define when wages and commissions have actually been earned. As crazy as it sounds, employment lawyers used to fight over this and the courts did not apply our common sense understanding in most cases. Now, wages and commissions are earned when the employee was not paid for all time worked.
Finally, the amendments clarify that employers cannot deduct amounts from your final paycheck for alleged amounts owed to it by the employee. Occasionally, employers would come up with any number of excuses not to pay an employee what they were owed at the conclusion of employment.
This is all good news for Minnesota employees.