Construction Law Blog

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EEOC Implements New Procedures for Discrimination Charges

Date: June 23, 2016  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Employment, Recent Legislation, Construction News and Notes, Regulatory Administration, Out of the Ordinary  /  Comments (0)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.  It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Contractors Should Exercise Reasonable Diligence to Avoid Serious Violation

Date: May 25, 2016  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Department of Labor & Industries  /  Comments (0)

When issuing citations under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act of 1973 (“WISHA”), the Department of Labor and Industries (“L&I”) commonly classifies violations as either “general” or “serious.”  The level of severity has an effect on the civil penalty – for example, the civil penalty of “serious” violation can reach $7,000 per violation – as well as the contractor’s safety record.  Contractors with poor safety records may pay more for insurance and have a more difficult time procuring work.

OSHA’s New Silica Rule Imposes New Regulations on Many Contractors

Date: May 11, 2016  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation, Employment  /  Comments (0)

Mound of SilicaOn March 25, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published its final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (the “Silica Rule”).  Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other materials.  Silica exposure is classified as a human lung carcinogen and can cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.  Approximately two million construction workers nationwide are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplace as a result of drilling, cutting, crushing, or grinding silica-containing material, such as concrete and stone.

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings – Seattle

Date: May 4, 2016  /  Author: Larry S. Glosser  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

Brick Building and WindowsSince 2009, the City of Seattle Department of Constructions & Inspections (formerly part of the Department of Planning (the “Department”) has been considering requiring retrofits for buildings with unreinforced masonry (“URM”) bearing walls.  URM buildings are the brick buildings built without steel reinforcements and ties and connections required by modern building codes.  They were built throughout the city, but many can be seen in neighborhoods such as Pioneer Square, Chinatown/International District, Columbia City, Capitol Hill, and Ballard.  URM buildings are the most likely type to be damaged during earthquakes, and retrofits will make these buildings less vulnerable to damage.

SBA Expands Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program

Date: March 30, 2016  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

More than 100 new industries are now eligible for the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Woman-Owned Small Business (“WOSB”) contract program.  The SBA implemented the WOSB program in order to expand the number of industries where woman-owned small buisnesses could compete.  The program allows set-asides for Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (“EDWOSBs”) in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented and set-asides for WOSBs where they are substantially underrepresented.

Complying With the New TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule

Date: December 2, 2015  /  Author: Lawrence S. Glosser  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

Recently, the largest changes in more than 30 years were made in federal mortgage disclosure requirements.  On August 1, 2015, the forms that have become second nature for generations of loan originators, attorneys, and borrowers—including the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), HUD-1, and Truth-in-Lending—are no longer used for new real estate transactions.  In their place are two completely new forms and a new set of requirements for how and when they are provided to borrowers.

Local Zoning Code Trumps Statutory Scheme for Collective Cannabis Gardens

Date: August 27, 2015  /  Author: Larry Glosser  /  Categories: Rants and Raves, Construction News and Notes, Regulatory Administration, Government Contracts, Out of the Ordinary  /  Comments (0)

In a recent case, the Washington State Supreme Court examined the question of whether a city or town’s zoning regulations can take precedence over activities that are permitted under state law.  The issue arose from the City of Kent’s efforts to prohibit collective gardens that were authorized by the pre-2015 version of RCW Chapter 69.51A, the Medical Use of Cannabis Act (MUCA).

Full Funding of Change Orders on Federal Contracts - Anti-Deficiency Act

Date: June 18, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation, Damages, Change Orders  /  Comments (0)

In federal government contracting, as in most public works contracts, contractors are required to comply with Contracting Officers' decisions.  Contract clauses mandate that pending resolution of disputes, the contractor must proceed with the performance of the contract, the dispute notwithstanding.[i]  Thus, even if a contractor suspects that the Contracting Officer directing the extra work does not have appropriate funds to pay for the changed work, the contractor has little choice but to perform the extra work.  This is a trap for unwary contractors that expend their own funds only to find out that there is no appropriation to pay for the extra work.  The Federal Anti-Deficiency Act was passed to prevent this very issue from occurring, but as contractors have learned, this Act has not precluded government employees from directing extra work for which they have no funds.[ii]

Washington State Legislature Updates Contractor Registration Statute

Date: June 10, 2015  /  Author: Ryan W. Sternoff  /  Categories: Recent Legislation, Construction News and Notes, Regulatory Administration  /  Comments (0)

In the 2007 legislative session, the Washington State Legislature significantly expanded the definition of what constitutes a “Contractor” in Washington State, such that for the past 8 years a broad reading of the contractor’s registration statute, RCW Ch. 18.27, would require just about any person or entity, other than a residential homeowner, who is involved at any level in improving real property to be registered as a “Contractor,” irrespective if that person or entity hired a licensed contractor to perform work on real property that they own.  This has imposed a burden to register as a contractor on persons or entities not performing any actual construction work, such as “house flippers” or developers, who retain general contractors to perform work for them, and do not so much as lift a shovel of dirt to improve the property that they own.  

Federal Court Reaffirms a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business - Right to Due Process

Date: April 21, 2015  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: MBE/DBE/WBE, Government Contracts, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes  /  Comments (0)

The Veterans Benefit Act of 2003 established a procurement program for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (“SDVOSB”) concerns.  This program provides that contracting officers may restrict competition to SDVOSB, and award a sole source or set aside contract where certain criteria are met.  The Small Business Administration (“SBA”) then issued rules establishing a SDVOSB Concern Program.  The SBA’s program establishes the criteria to be used in federal contracting to determine service disabled veteran status, business ownership and control requirements, and guidelines for establishing sole source and set aside procurement opportunities in protest and appeal procedures (see Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) 13 CFR § 125.8-125.10).