Business Email Compromises Bilking U.S. Companies Out of $301M Per Month

The United States Treasury Department came out with a report last week that concludes that business email compromises (BEC) are costing U.S. companies more than $301 million per month. The report confirms that the two industries hit the hardest by these scams are manufacturing and construction.

The report, issued by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, reports that 1,100 BEC scams occurred each month against U.S. companies in 2018, which is an increase from 500 per month in 2016. The BECs cost U.S. companies $301 million per month, which is an increase from $110 million per month in 2016.

The scams outlined in the report are the same ones that we see every day. They start with phishing schemes to an executive in the company, then the intruder either impersonates the executive to request other members of the company to send information or money, or they follow the executive’s email, forward it to a Gmail account without the knowledge of the executive, and start to follow the email trails to determine who the executive and business are doing business with, who the vendors and third parties are, and to whom the company owes money. They are patient, and at just the right time, the intruder copies the signature line of the executive, and requests that Accounts Payable wire a known vendor tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to a bank account that the fraudster drains after the money is wired. Continue Reading

Proposed Changes to EPA’s Stormwater Permit for Construction Sites

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced its intention to modify the 2017 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Construction Stormwater Discharges (2017 CGP). EPA implements the 2017 CGP in states and territories that have not yet received authorization to implement the NPDES Stormwater program. Primarily, this includes New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Continue Reading

OSHA Clarifies Position On Anti-Retaliation Rule

As all members of the construction industry know, the prevention of the occurrence of work-related injuries and illnesses is a constant concern, and one that can have serious implications for the various contractual relationships on a construction project. To address these concerns, construction industry employers often implement incentive programs to award both the reporting of injuries or illnesses and the lack of occurrence of reportable incidents. In addition, both before and after injuries or illnesses occur, many employers have drug testing policies which are implemented with the goals of preventing and/or discovering the causes of work-related injuries and illnesses. Continue Reading

New York Requires Sexual Harassment Policies in Compliance with New Requirements to Be Distributed by Tuesday, October 9, 2018 (But Deadline Extended for Newly Mandated Training)

As we have written about previously, this past Spring the New York State Legislature and New York City Council adopted broad new requirements to combat workplace gender-based harassment. Adopted in April and May by the New York General Assembly and New York City Council, respectively, the sweeping sexual harassment laws represent a renewed and comprehensive program to end workplace sexual harassment.

In addition, the New York City Commission on Human Rights published a mandated sexual harassment poster, which is now required to be posted conspicuously, both in English and Spanish, in covered workplaces. Continue Reading

California and Maryland Have Enacted Legislation Essentially Making The General Contractor the Guarantor for All Wages on the Project – Should Sureties Be Concerned?

It’s been said that as California goes, so goes the nation. If so, general contractors throughout the country may soon be taking on more responsibility for the unpaid wages of the workers on their construction projects than they might have expected. As of January 1, 2018, Assembly Bill 1701 makes general contractors liable for the unpaid wages of any employee who furnishes labor to or through the general contractor in furtherance of the prime contract; no matter the tier.

A.B. 1701 amended Section 218.7 of the California Labor Code so that general contractors on private construction projects “assume, and [are] liable for any debt” of a subcontractor of any tier for unpaid wages, fringe benefits or other employee contributions. The driving force behind the legislation was the labor unions. The legislation does not provide for a private right of action to the unpaid employees but instead permits the Commissioner of Labor to file suit on behalf of an unpaid employee(s) and also allows labor unions to sue for unpaid wages or benefits. There is a one year statute of limitations for such claims. Continue Reading

NLRB Pursues Rulemaking to Address Joint-Employer Standard

Whether a general contractor or subcontractor is a joint employer with another company on a construction project for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act can have significant legal and practical consequences, including, but not limited to, potential union bargaining obligations, liability for unfair labor practices committed by a joint employer, and potential impact on day-to-day operations and costs. The National Labor Relations Board’s standard for determining joint employer status has shifted during the past several years creating uncertainty regarding whether a construction company may be a joint employer with another entity. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board indicated it will pursue formal rulemaking on the proper standard to determine joint employer status. A link to a summary of these recent developments can be found here.

Will Strict “No Damages for Delay” Clauses Be Outlawed on New York Public Construction Projects? Stay tuned.

For years, general contractors and trade contractors have faced very strict “no damages for delay” clauses on New York State construction projects. The tides are changing.  If signed into law, S. R. 06686, Reg. Sess. 2017-2018 (NY 2017) will require public entities to allow contractors, subcontractors and suppliers to recover for costs associated with project delays to the extent the delays were caused by the entity’s actions or inactions. Public entities would include, without limitation, any state agency, department, board, bureau, municipal corporation, school district or any instrumentality or public subdivision of the State of New York. Continue Reading

Summary of the Second Construction Industry Roundtable Discussion

Building upon the success of last year’s event, on May 31, 2018 Robinson+Cole’s Construction Group led the Second Construction Industry Roundtable Discussion at its Hartford office. With a variety of representatives from major Connecticut construction industry organizations and other industry stakeholders in attendance, the participants discussed issues affecting the construction industry in 2018 and beyond.

With 2018 being an election year in Connecticut, the discussion began with a question posed to all attendees about anticipated outcomes and impact of the gubernatorial election in November. All agreed that, while the result of the election remains difficult to predict, the next governor will inevitably be required to address continued challenges with the state’s economy as a whole and the burden of state government personnel costs specifically. Several expressed concern as to the State’s perceived unfavorable climate for doing business. As an industry particularly susceptible to influence by the current economic climate, it was agreed that good news for the economy and business growth would certainly be good news for the construction sector. Continue Reading

New York Adopts New Tools to Fight Gender-Based Harassment

The New York State Legislature and New York City Council adopted broad new requirements to combat workplace gender-based harassment. New York State’s new obligations were signed into law on April 12 and take effect at different times over the next 180 days. New York City’s new requirements take effect on April 1, 2019. Continue Reading

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

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