On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Labor, Division of Workforce Development, CRI-608708-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 16, 2008
Before Judges Skillman, Collester and Graves.
Petitioner R.I., Inc., doing business as Seating Solutions, appeals from the September 19, 2006 final administrative action by the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (Department) denying its application for renewal of its public works contract registration. We affirm.
Seating Solutions is a New York corporation engaged in the installation of spectator and audience seating in stadiums, auditoriums and similar structures including public works projects in New Jersey. The Department is authorized to administer and enforce the Public Works Contractor Registration Act (CRA), N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.48 to -56.57, and its associated regulations, N.J.A.C. 12:62-1.1 to -2.6. Under the Prevailing Wage Act (PWA), N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.25 to -56.70, of which the CRA is a part, contractors and subcontractors engaged in public work within the State are obliged to obtain a registration certificate from the Department. N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.51. This requirement was enacted to enforce laws and regulations concerning wages, unemployment, temporary disability and worker's compensation insurance and payment of payroll taxes.
N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.49. Under the CRA no contractor may bid or work on a contract for public work unless registered, and a violation of the Act is a disorderly persons offense. N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.56.
Applicants may obtain either a one or two-year registration certificate. One-year certificates are issued to new and one-year renewal applicants; two-year certificates are issued to contractors who have maintained at least two years of uninterrupted registration. The expiration date of the certificate is printed in its top right corner. Registrations must be renewed not less than thirty days before the expiration date of the immediate preceding registration. N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.54.
Seating Solutions first obtained a one-year registration in 2000, and subsequently obtained one-year registrations on an intermittent basis. On May 9, 2005, the company submitted an application for a two-year renewal of its registration certificate, which was denied by the Department because there had not been two years of uninterrupted registration. The Department refunded $200 of the application fee that was over and above the one-year renewal fee of $300 and issued a one-year registration certificate which noted that June 27, 2006, was the expiration date.
However, Seating Solutions failed to submit a renewal application prior to the expiration date printed on the 2005 certificate, causing its registration to lapse. Nonetheless, the company continued work on the Elizabeth High School Williams Field renovation public work project which began on May 31, 2006, and was scheduled to finish on October 13, 2006.
On August 18, 2006, two months after its prior registration expired, Seating Solutions submitted its application for a one-year renewal listing Lisa Suprina as president and Tony English as secretary as the persons with an interest in the company. Accompanying the application was a letter requesting that action be expedited because "(1) we did not receive any notification prior to the expiration date of 06/30/06 [and] (2) we are currently working on a contract in New Jersey." Follow-up letters were sent by the company on August 22 and August 26, 2006.
During this time Seating Solutions was involved in a disciplinary action brought by the Department for failure to pay workers in compliance with the PWA on three public works projects. On August 30, 2006, the Department suspended Seating Solutions and its principals from bidding or engaging in any public work projects pending debarment. By letter of September 1, 2006, the Department clarified that "the recent debarment sanctions imposed by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development do not prevent Seating Solutions from completing public works already awarded or contractually obligated prior to the effective date of the debarment and suspension actions." Accordingly, Seating Solutions continued its work on the Williams Field project.
On October 13, 2006, the Department Commissioner ordered that Seating Solutions and its principals be debarred for a period of three years and pay the total amount of $47,965.88 as wages owed to employees, administrative fees and administrative penalties. On August 12, 2008, we affirmed the debarment in an unreported opinion, New Jersey Dep't of Labor & Workforce Dev. v. R.I., Inc., A-1713-06T3.
Acting on the company's 2006 application renewal, the Department issued a denial letter on September 19, 2006, on grounds that the company "engaged in a public work without a valid ...