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Each year, hurricane season presents a challenge to contractors and developers along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts as they face the risk of impacts from significant weather.  Hurricanes Michael, Irma, Harvey and Florence are only the most recent reminders of how devastating one of these storms can be.  With the construction industry being as active as it is, projects in storm-prone areas should be prepared to deal with and minimize the physical and financial risks that come along with these storms.  I was recently able to share my insight about what project teams can do to deal with a storm…
District of Columbia Council To Allow Some City Employees to Access Medical Marijuana (For Now) While the District of Columbia (D.C.) has had a medical marijuana program on its books since 2013, there has been some debate regarding whether or not city workers are allowed to participate in the program, even if they have a written recommendation from a physician. Since 2016, it has been up to individual city government agencies to decide whether or not their employees can participate in D.C.’s medical marijuana program.  This policy has led to disparate treatment of employees from one agency to another, even…
Does your parental leave or “bonding time” policy provide more time off to one gender over the other following the birth or adoption of a child? If so, it is time to revisit the policy as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)–the federal agency tasked with enforcing workplace anti-discrimination laws–is actively pursuing policies that are not gender-neutral but instead provides more parental leave to women compared to men. Many companies offer “two-tiered” types of leave policies, where the birth mother is entitled to more “bonding time” or parental leave than the father. Other policies sometimes distinguish between a “primary” and…
Owners of a Massachusetts waste collection, recycling and removal company recently were held personally liable for their failure to pay their employees at prevailing wages.  See Donis v. American Waste Services, LLC, 95 Mass.App.Ct. 317 (2019).  Under Massachusetts law, wage violations are subject to triple damages and payment of attorney’s fees.     The waste services company entered into contracts with several Massachusetts towns that required compliance with prevailing wage laws at hourly rates of $20 — $24.  However, the company paid workers $16 — $17 an hour, or at flat day rates.  The company tried several unsuccessful defenses: (1) the…
On June 5, 2019, Nevada became the first state to make it unlawful for employers to reject job applicants who test positive for cannabis. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2020 and fits with existing Nevada law, which already prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who lawfully use “products” outside of the work premises which do not adversely affect job performance or the safety of other employees. However, there are exceptions for certain jobs and employers can still require that employees not engage in cannabis use while on-the-job. Nevada is one of nine states that have…
Maryland recently joined the growing number of states to enact laws that restrict the use of noncompete agreements for low wage employees with the passage of Senate Bill 328. A noncompete agreement is a contract executed between an employee and employer that typically states the employee is prohibited from working for a direct or indirect competitor of the company for a certain period of time, or within a certain geographic area, after the termination of employment. On May 28, 2019, the Noncompete and Conflict of Interest Clauses Act went became law and it will go into effect on October…
Last week, the Illinois legislature passed a landmark bill authorizing recreational marijuana. Shortly thereafter, Governor J.B. Pritzker tweeted that he looks forward to signing the bill into law. The bill, formally known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (the “Act”), will make it legal under state law for adults 21 and older to purchase and possess limited amounts of cannabis, beginning on January 1, 2020. As with the majority of state cannabis legislation, this bill also contains specific language that Illinois employers should review in order to understand their obligations under the new law.  While the legalization and regulation…
New Sustainability Ordinances for Construction Enacted in Florida and Colorado Cities  The City of St. Petersburg, Florida is one of the latest municipalities to incorporate the concepts of sustainable construction, sometimes referred to as “green building”, into the requirements of their municipal code.  On April 26, 2019, the City adopted Ordinance No. 359-H; which requires City-owned buildings over 5,000 square feet, which are either existing and being substantially modified or are being newly constructed, to achieve a rating of LEED Gold from the U.S. Green Building Council.   The new ordinance makes clear that the purpose of adopting the sustainability…
The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a decision limiting the time in which employers can raise certain defenses to claims brought under Title VII. In Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, the plaintiff, Lois Davis, was an employee of Fort Bend County, Texas. In 2010, she filed an EEOC charge against Fort Bend, alleging retaliation, after she had reported sexual harassment in the workplace. While the charge was pending, Davis was fired for failing to report to work on a Sunday, when she was at a church event. In an effort to supplement her pending EEOC charge, Davis wrote “religion”…
In a case of first impression, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court recently held that a subrogation waiver in an owner’s prime contractor contract does not bar a subcontractor claim for contribution against the prime contractor.  See Gables Constr., Inc. v. Red Coats, Inc., No. 907, SEPT.TERM, 2017, 2019 WL 2067348 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. May 10, 2019).  Upper Rock, Inc. (Owner) filed a $22 million claim against Red Coats, Inc., a “security and fire watch company” (Subcontractor), for fire damage to a building under construction.  Red Coats filed a third-party claim against the prime contractor, Gables Construction, Inc. (Contractor), for contribution…
DC Circuit Clarifies Employer’s Burden to Demonstrate A “Legitimate, Nondiscriminatory Reason” For Taking an Adverse Employment Action WHAT HAPPENED: Earlier this month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit released an important decision that articulates the substantive burden an employer faces to defend against an allegation of disparate treatment discrimination. The case, Figueroa v. Pompeo, articulates a more stringent view of an employer’s burden in litigation than many courts have applied, and highlights the importance of detailed fact collection, preservation and  record keeping to avoid liability. No. 1:16-cv-649 (D.C. Cir. May 10, 2019). Disparate treatment discrimination is the…
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Updated Information After the Annual IIUSA Meeting Held in Washington, DC May 6 and May 7, 2019 IIUSA hosted a very targeted annual conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss the status of the EB-5 industry and focused on various specific matters of interest to the group. The major takeaway from the meeting was a speech by Charles Oppenheim, Chief Analyst for USCIS, who provided overall information related to retrogression in various countries, the visa backlog, the utilization of the program among the major countries and the rest of the world as well as the panelists’ general comments related thereto.  In…
Five attorneys of the Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP firm attended the annual OZ Expo Conference in Las Vegas.  The conference was very well attended with an estimate of 1,400 participants and further solidifying that the OZ Expo team is best in class with its reach and expertise in this space.  The two-day event had an extremely diversified agenda that addressed many of the issues currently faced in the industry.  Takeaways from the meeting can be summarized as follows: 1. Various governmental agencies were represented at the conference, including specific states as well as a contingency from Puerto…
Second Circuit Decision has Implications for Native American Sovereign Immunity and Predatory Lending Practices On April 24, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its decision in the case of Gingras v. Think Finance, Inc., 2019 WL 1780951 (2d Cir. April 24, 2019), a decision with far-reaching implications on Native American sovereign immunity and predatory lending practices.  From July 2011 through July 2013, plaintiff-appellees Jessica Gingras and Angela Given borrowed various amounts, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, from Plain Green, LLC. Plain Green operates as a “tribal lending entity wholly owned by the Chippewa Cree Tribe…
A recent article in the Baltimore Business Journal on a Maryland construction industry survey reports that tight labor markets and rising materials costs are influencing the opinion of Maryland contractors that there may be a downturn coming in the near future.  While contractors are individually optimistic about their own businesses, they recognize that the labor crisis is growing.  Fewer young people are entering the construction industry and over 80 percent of contractors surveyed responded that “finding and retaining quality employees” is their top concern.  Although salaries are generally on the rise, corporate culture appears to be a greater concern to…