Lawyers argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on Jan. 6 over whether a union laborer’s complaints of wage violations and alleged retaliation for his whistleblower activity are automatically pre-empted by federal labor law.

In Puglia v. Elk Pipeline, plaintiff Salvatore Puglia, a laborer who claims he was laid off after he complained that his employer was violating the state’s Prevailing Wage Act (PWA) is asking the court to overturn two lower court rulings that because there was a collective bargaining agreement between his union and the employer, federal labor laws pre-empt any actions in state court.

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