Oral Argument Preview: G4S Technology LLC v. Mass. Technology Park Corp.

The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is slated to hear oral argument in G4S Technology LLC v. Mass. Technology Park Corp. on Monday, March 5, 2017 – a case with significant implications for construction litigation.

The dispute arises out of a $45 million public works project to build a 1200-mile fiber optic network bringing high speed Internet access to western Massachusetts. Appellee Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation (MTPC), a state development agency, awarded the contract to design and build the fiber optic network to Appellant G4S Technology LLC (G4S). Continue Reading

Are Construction Project Supervisors Exempt from the FLSA’s Overtime Requirements?

The Answer:  It depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.

However, two recent reissued opinion letters from the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) provide construction companies with guidance regarding the issue of whether project superintendents and project supervisors are exempt administrative  employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Continue Reading

The Trump N.L.R.B. Gift Giving Season

Acting just days before the term of Chairman Phillip Miscimarra ended on December 16, the National Labor Relations Board issued four decisions overturning landmark cases expending employee and labor union protections.  In a single week, the NLRB returns to pre-Obama-Board standards and upends the apple cart. Each case was decided on a strict, party-line 3-2 vote. Copies of the decisions can be found here.

In The Boeing Company,  the Board reversed a line of cases holding that a facially neutral work rule would be found to violate the National Labor Relations Act if employees could “reasonably construe” the rule as prohibiting conducted protected by the Act even if never applied to ban such conduct. Using this so-called “reasonably construe” standard, the Board has invalided countless work rules and policies without any showing that the rule was applied in an unlawful manner and without regard to the employer’s need for such a rule. In Boeing Company, the Board adopted a new standard and announced that going forward it will review facially-neutral workplace policies both in light of the impact such policies have on employees’ protected rights as well as the employer’s justifications for adopting the challenged policy. Continue Reading

Out with the Old and in with the New: What Technological Trends Can the Construction Industry Expect in 2018?

As we embark upon 2018 we find ourselves not only reflecting on past accomplishments but also looking to  future goals for the upcoming year. Construction is a fast moving and ever changing industry which requires a real commitment to keep apprised of the latest trends and developments.

So what can we expect in 2018? Although there are a variety of opinions concerning expected trends one in particular is the increased use of technology. Construction is not an industry known for being at the technological forefront. But with heightened competition and pressure to efficiently and cost effectively deliver projects, certain technological advances are surely to increase in popularity including the continued use of BIM, project management software, virtual and augmented reality and of course, drones. Continue Reading

New York Paid Family Leave Obligations for Construction Employers

Effective January 1, 2018, employees of construction employers (supplies, architects, contractors, and others) working in New York State may be eligible for paid family leave. The NY Paid Family Leave Law (“PFLL”) is both broader than and more narrow than the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The PFLL applies to all employees employed by private employers in the construction industry and working in New York State, even if those employers are located outside the State of New York or the employee is working from home (for example, sales employees, estimators, etc.).

Employees working in New York State become eligible for Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) on January 1, 2018 or after the employee (a) works for 26 consecutive weeks (if the employee is regularly scheduled to work 20 hours or more per week) or (b) after 175 days of employment (if the employee is regularly scheduled to work fewer than 20 hours per week). Continue Reading

New York City’s Salary History Ban Takes Effect October 31

Effective October 31, 2017, New York City becomes another jurisdiction making it unlawful for contractors and other employers to ask most job applicants for information about their prior or current salary, compensation or benefits.  Adopted by the City Council earlier this year, the new law seeks to eliminate wage inequality experienced by women and minorities by making it unlawful to inquire about or rely on a job applicant’s salary history.  In anticipation of the October 31 effective date, the New York City Commission on Human Rights published two Fact Sheets – one for job applicants available here, and one for employers available here. Continue Reading

Tic Toc Tic Toc: The Clock Is Running on Construction and Design Claims by the State of Connecticut Beginning October 1, 2017

Our readers may recall that Public Act No. 15-28 was signed by the Governor back in 2015, subjecting the State of Connecticut and its political subdivisions to a statute of limitations for asserting actions and claims arising out of “construction-related work.” The law became effective as of October 1, 2017. “Construction-related work” is defined in the Act to include the design, construction, construction management, planning, construction administration, surveying, supervision, inspection or observation of construction of improvements to real property. Notably, it applies not only to the State, but also its subdivisions such as cities, towns, and other entities like school districts.

The limitations period set forth in the Act is 10 years from the date of substantial completion of a given improvement. The 10 year limitations period applies going forward to improvements to real property substantially completed on or after October 1, 2017. For improvements substantially completed before October 1, the limitations period runs to October 1, 2027. Prior to the Act, the State and its political subdivisions were generally not subject to any statutes of limitations for such claims due to the legal doctrine of nullum tempus occurrit regi, which provides that a state is not subject to statutes of limitations unless it specifically consents to be. Literally translated, it means that “no time runs against the king.” Continue Reading

Robinson+Cole Hosts Industry Leaders Roundtable Discussion

On August 30, 2017 Robinson+Cole’s Construction Practice Group held its annual Retreat at the newly completed Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford. The Retreat featured an Industry Leaders Roundtable discussion session with representatives from many  of the major Connecticut construction industry organizations. The discussion was moderated by Construction Group Chair Greg Faulkner and led to a lively discussion on various issues affecting the construction industry. Here are some of the highlights:

The first topic of discussion focused on what attendees viewed as the most significant challenges facing design and construction service providers in the immediate future. All in attendance agreed that the shortage of young professionals and tradespeople embarking on careers in the construction and design industries was an issue of serious concern. It was pointed out that Connecticut is unique among many of our neighboring states in that it provides options to young people considering a career in the construction industry through trade schools, which feature an academic curriculum in addition to skills education, and the fact that public high schools are increasingly adding trade-skills-based education back into their regular curricula. This was viewed as good news by all. On a related note, those in attendance reported positively on the increased presence of women in the construction and design industries, particularly the trend of more women entering the industries as young professionals and advancing in seniority to managerial roles. Continue Reading

What’s Next for the Winthrop Square Development Project?

On July 28, 2017 Governor Baker approved a home rule petition proposed by Mayor Walsh which changed a Massachusetts law so that a skyscraper could be built over the Winthrop Square garage in Boston, Massachusetts. Obtaining the Governor’s approval of House Bill 3749 was a tremendous challenge that the developer, Millennium Partners has now overcome moving one step closer to the construction of the project.

The incumbent Secretary of State, William Galvin, who also serves as chair of the Massachusetts Historical Commission urged the Governor to veto the bill stating in a July 24, 2017 letter: “It is the conclusion of the Massachusetts Historical Commission that the construction of this building at its proposed height would do great damage to historic buildings included on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, including the State House, public parks, and private residences.” Continue Reading

A Shadow Cast Over Boston’s Building Boom

There has been a law on the books in Massachusetts since 1990 restricting the construction of tall buildings that would cast what some might view as unsightly shadows over the Boston Common and Public Garden.  With no open space remaining for ground up construction in downtown Boston, developers are looking build a 775 foot residential tower that undoubtedly would cast a shadow over the Common and Public Garden in violation of that law; and are thus seeking to change the law.  On June 27, 2017, Massachusetts legislators delayed a vote to waive the law. William Galvin, incumbent  Massachusetts Secretary of State, asked lawmakers to delay their vote by two weeks so that his office can study the legislation. Secretary Galvin also oversees the Massachusetts Historic Commission.

The proposed 775-foot tower was named by the developer Winthrop Square. According to the Friends of the Public Garden, a park nonprofit advocacy group,  the tower, if built would violate the existing shadow laws for 264 days of the year on the Boston Common and 120 days on the Public Garden. Continue Reading