The Ohio Supreme Court recently reversed two lower court decisions in holding that the Franklin County Board of Commissioners failed to exercise sound discretion in awarding a painting contract for Huntington Park, the home of the Columbus Clippers baseball team. In 2008, the Commissioners rejected a bid from The Painting Company (a non-union shop) in favor of the bid of a union shop, which was substantially higher.

In their bid instructions for the stadium, the Commissioners required contractors to certify that they had not violated Ohio’s prevailing wage law three or more times within a two-year period over the last ten years. The reason given by the Commissioners for accepting the higher bid was the fact that The Painting Company had previously settled a claim alleging it had paid its workers less than the required prevailing wage. In its 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court rejected The Paint Company's argument that the criteria used by the Commission to award the contracts was unlawful. However, the Court accepted the Company's argument that, because it had not been found to have committed a "violation" of the prevailing wage law, the Board of Commissioners failed to exercise sound discretion in applying its own bid evaluation criteria. Therefore, the Court remanded the case to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court for further proceedings. A copy of the Court's opinion is available at: http://supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2010/2010-Ohio-1199.pdf.

This ruling may cause employers to properly evaluate any prevailing wage cases brought against them to make sure that they avoid any "violations" that may impact their ability to successfully bid on future projects.