This post was co-authored by Abby M. WarrenAlisha N. Sullivan and Emily A. Zaklukiewicz who are members of Robinson+Cole’s Labor, Employment, Benefits + Immigration Groups.

Although millions of people in the United States have been vaccinated since COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in December 2020, a large percentage of the population still remains unvaccinated. Many lawmakers and companies are brainstorming ways to remove barriers to individuals obtaining the vaccine, especially frontline workers who remain at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection. One such barrier is the time away from work that may be required to obtain the vaccination and the risk that the time will be unpaid. Many employers, including contractors, are questioning whether they must, or should, provide employees with paid time off for time spent related to obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine.
Continue Reading Are Employers Required to Pay For Employee Time Spent Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine?

This post was authored by Jonathan Schaefer, who is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group. Jon focuses his practice on environmental compliance counseling, occupational health and safety, permitting, site remediation, and litigation related to federal and state regulatory programs.
Continue Reading AIHA Releases COVID-19 Guidelines for Construction Industry

Although Governor Cuomo put “New York State on PAUSE” a week ago, at that time, “construction” was not specifically exempted from his Executive Order and the Empire State Development’s (ESD) guidance on what businesses were subject to the 100 percent workforce reduction. Yet, pursuant to a further directive from the Governor, on March 27, 2020,

A $6.75 million judgment was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, against a developer that whitewashed 45 spray-painted artworks on its site — several months before the demolition permits were issued. See Castillo v. G&M Realty L.P., — F.3d —-2020 WL 826392 (February 20, 2020). The trial court had issued

Property development companies regularly create single-purpose entities (SPE) to acquire new real estate for development, construction or renovations. SPEs are often comprised of only a few members, and no assets beyond the property itself, and are considered “closely-held” companies.

There has been a growing trend in New York construction defect lawsuits in which boards of managers of newly-constructed condominiums that have sued the sponsor-developer-SPEs also name the SPE’s individual members as defendants. The plaintiffs rely on New York’s Debtor & Creditor statute Article 10, referred to as the “Uniform Fraudulent Conveyances Act” (UFCA). The UFCA authorizes “claw-backs” of money and other asset transfers as a remedy for some creditors.

Effective April 2020 in New York, after 95 years, the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (UVTA) will replace the UFCA. The new statute will contain modified definitions and clearer criteria for which transactions may be unraveled. The question is whether this will reshape the courts’ understanding of sponsor-developer-SPEs’ equity financing arrangements, which by their nature have created a conflict with the UFCA.
Continue Reading Will Claims Against Closely-Held Condominium Developers Be Thwarted by New York’s Newly-Adopted Uniform Voidable Transactions Act?

In the wake of the tragic death of architect Erica Tishman, who was killed by falling debris from a brick tower in midtown Manhattan in December 2019 , the New York Department of Buildings (DOB) amended its rules governing exterior wall inspections and repairs. The new rules went into effect on February 20, 2020. Known as the Local Law 11 inspections, the Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP) has undergone extensive amendments in an effort to address the increasing number of dangerous façade conditions including corroded masonry and fractured terra cotta which in addition to causing structural problems, can loosen and fall to the ground causing bodily harm or property damage.

This issue is a growing concern. During the past six years, more than 4,790 Environmental Control Board violations related to facades were issued of which more than half remain active.[i] The DOB reported more than 22,000 violations related to facades since 2014.[ii]
Continue Reading NYC Amends Its Façade Inspection and Safety Program to Push Building Owners into Action

A subcontractor has liened the property even though the owner has paid in full for its work. The general contractor has disappeared. What should an owner do next? And will its attorneys’ fees be recoverable?

In New York, a mechanic’s lien, although filed in the county clerk’s office on the project owner’s land record, secures only to funds:

  • owed to the party directly above the lienor: each tier of subcontractors, materialmen, and laborers has its own “lien fund,” and pursuit of that is its only recourse; and
  • that have been approved for payment: if the owner did not by contract or change order consent to the payment sought, that dollar amount is not included in the “lien fund.”

Thus, if at the time the subcontractor filed the notice of mechanic’s lien, the owner did not owe the general contractor money for work performed, there is no fund to which the subcontractor’s lien can attach, and the lien is void. In such a case, the owner has several options under the Lien Law.  It should determine whether the lien is “facially valid,” i.e., without knowing any facts, the lien, on its face, complies with the statutory requirements. If so, the owner may serve the lienor with a “Demand for Verified Statement,” which seeks detailed information about the items of labor and materials furnished and the terms of the subcontract under which they were furnished. If the lienor fails to provide a responsive statement within five days, the statute sets up a path by which the owner can seek cancellation of the lien in a summary proceeding. If the lienor does timely respond, then with the information provided by the subcontractor, an owner can verify the lienor’s claim.
Continue Reading An Unfounded Lien: What’s an Owner to Do? And Can it Recover its Attorneys’ Fees?

As the Coronavirus spreads across the globe, its impact continues to disrupt many industries, including construction.  Over the last twenty years, the construction industry in the United States has substantially increased its reliance on China as a supplier for all types of construction materials including electrical and lighting equipment, elevators and component parts, plumbing fittings

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 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)

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