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Philadelphia Construction Law Blog

Pennsylvania Bill Aiming to Close Labor Law Loophole Moving to the Senate Floor?

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

We have continued to follow legislation put forth in the Pennsylvania legislature that seeks to close a loophole in the criminal code that provides exemptions for stalking, harassing, and threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction if it is done during a labor dispute. The newest version, Pennsylvania House Bill 874, has passed out of the House and been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 9-4 vote. It now seems primed to come to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Seal of Pennsylvania State Senate.pngThe prior version of this legislation was House Bill 1154. It has been under consideration since Governor Corbett was in office, but a bill which could be agreed upon between the two houses in the legislature could never be reached. It seems that the parties have now reached relative agreement on the language to be used and that its chances of passing are improved.

Wishing Our Jewish Friends and Clients an Easy Fast

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Today is the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. Also known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is celebrated each year at the end of the high holy days. It is the holiest and most solemn day of the year in the Hebrew calendar and is traditionally observed with fasting and intensive prayer.

We wish Jews around the world, and especially our friends and client, an easy fast day!

Workers Within City of Philadelphia Limits Now Entitled to Paid Sick Time

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Philadelphia has put a new city ordinance in place that implements its policy of ensuring that all employees - whether working for a public or private entity - within the city limits, get paid sick time. Bill number 141026 became effective in May. With one notable exception for people working under a collective bargaining agreement, it applies to all construction and development companies.

Sick Worker.jpgUnder the new law, employees who work within the Philadelphia city limits are entitled to 1 hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. All employers are required to provide sick leave; however, employers with 10 or more employees must make that sick leave a paid absence. Employers with 9 or fewer employees may, but are not required, to make the sick leave paid. A maximum of 40 sick hours may be earned in a year and the sick time can be used after the employee has worked a minimum of 90 days. Sick time can be used for health needs or for leave to address domestic or sexual abuse within an employees' family.

Some questions remain on the application of this new law. First, it's unclear how employers who have mobile employees moving into and out of the city on multiple occasions during the day or week should be treated. Some portions of the law suggest that if an employee works in the city for any amount of time, the policy applies. While it seems safe to assume that the city will take this position, the rule remains vague.


Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Labor Day is traditionally filled with last trips to the beach and barbecues during the long weekend that marks the end of summer. Like Memorial Day in May though, it's a good time to pause for a moment or two and understand the reason why we have this federal holiday.

President Grover Cleveland.pngBy federal law, Labor Day is always the first Monday in September. It was declared a federal holiday in 1888 to reinforce the growing sentiment in the country that the effort and labor of the American worker should be recognized and honored. The holiday has its roots in the labor movement and was first celebrated by The Central Labor Union in New York City in 1882. Thereafter, various cities and states recognized the day before Congress made it a national holiday in 1888.

Over time, Labor Day became a grandiose celebration of the labor movement and labor unions. The occasion was marked with large parades, speeches by prominent people in the movement, and wide media coverage. While these elements of the celebration have died out over time for various reasons, the holiday rightly remains a part of the American tradition to show appreciation for all those hard working people that make America an economic powerhouse.

Kaplin Stewart Ice Bucket Challenge a Big Hit

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

As previously reported, the Kaplin Stewart Construction Law Department took the ALS ice bucket challenge recently. The event was a great success and even attracted some media attention. For some great photographs of the moments of truth, go here for the Times Herald's coverage.

Kaplin Stewart believes it is important to give back to the community in which it works and so many of its employees live. We were thrilled to support such a wonderful organization and a good cause.Recent news reports suggest that the money is being put to good use. Let's keep raising money to keep the fight to find a cure to this horrible disease going.

President Obama Creates New Bureaucracy To Manage Federal Procurement Process

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

President Obama signed an executive order that will have a huge impact on the construction industry on July 31, 2014. Amazingly, it has received little fanfare or attention until now.

President Barck Obama2.bmpThe Fair Play and Safe Workplaces EO, Number 13673, creates a new and sweeping regulatory scheme to manage federal contractors and the federal procurement process. This should be concern enough for any contractor interested or involved in federal public work given the additional red tape and difficulty it will add to an already cumbersome process. However, it also imposes a subjective standard that is ripe for mistakes and, worse, abuse.

The Executive Order directs federal agencies to determine whether a contractor seeking federal work is "responsible enough" to be awarded the project. There is little guidance for what constitutes "responsible enough" outside a subjective look back at 3 years of compliance history at the state and federal levels. There appears to be no carve out for whether the charges were found to be true or not and there is no mechanism to indicate how different state and federal agencies who already have trouble communicating will share this information. This could result in actual or constructive (due to the time it takes) exclusion of contractors from federal public work. It also represents further consolidation of power in the executive branch and leaves the door open to abuse in the form of favoring political allies of an administration according to some.

Kaplin Stewart Construction Department Takes Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

The Construction Department at Kaplin Stewart is doing its part to raise awareness and money to defeat ALS by taking the ice bucket challenge. The department has challenged other firm personnel and companies to accept the challenge by dumping ice cold water over their heads and/or contributing to the ALS foundation. The Kaplin Stewart lawyers and staff brave enough to take the challenge so far are:

Robert Korn

Lisa LaPenna

Joshua QuinterALS Logo.png

Lynn Scott

Jennifer Leister

Angela Wade

Andy Cohn

June Singh

Janet Flood

Karin Corbett

The ALS ice bucket challenge was a spontaneous phenomenon last summer when people across the country participated to raise money for a cure and awareness about ALS. Over $115 million was raised as a result. The ALS Foundation is encouraging people to participate again this year as part of its fundraising effort to support research. Please consider supporting one of our participants. At a minimum, check back later this week for photos and video of the frigid event. They should be great!

Philadelphia Updates Stormwater Regulations Effective July 1, 2015

Posted by:  Karin Corbett  (kcorbett@kaplaw.com)

General Photo of Stormwater Runoff.jpgEffective July 1, 2015, Philadelphia Water updated its Stormwater Regulations for development to meet requirements of the Clean Water Act. The changes claim to improve the health of Philadelphia's rivers, minimize local flooding, and encourage the use of green infrastructure throughout the city. The revised Stormwater Management Guidance Manual, Version 3.0 contains policies and procedures that reflect the new Stormwater Regulation requirements and offers enhanced resources to the development community with respect to stormwater management. A summary of changes can be found at the Philadelphia Watershed's website:


PA Supreme Court says CASPA does not apply to public projects

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

It took a federal court to ask for guidance, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally formally declared as law a concept most construction lawyers already assumed to be the case: the Pennsylvania Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act does not apply to public works projects.

The Supreme Court offered this opinion when asked by the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals for guidance on the issue in the matter of Clipper Pipe & Service, Inc. v. The Ohio Casualty Insurance Company. The question arose after the District Court awarded CASPA damages against Ohio Casualty on work performed by Clipper Pipe under its agreement to help construct the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in the Lehigh Valley. Citing conflicting case law, the District Court denied the defendants' summary judgment motion and permitted an award of CASPA damages after Clipper was successful at trial.

Generic Construction Project Picture.jpg

The analysis focused on the rules of statutory construction and, more specifically, the definition of an owner. The Court agreed with Ohio Casualty that use of the word "association" in the statutory definition was insufficient to include a governmental entity. The owner of the project in this case - the Department of Navy - was too dissimilar to a corporate or business entity owner to make the analogy work either. This logic, in combination with another standard rule of statutory construction requiring laws which infringe on the sovereignty of a public body to be narrowly construed, necessitated a conclusion that CASPA does not apply to public projects.

BREAKING NEWS: Ironworkers Union Boss Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison

Posted by:  Karin Corbett  (kcorbett@kaplaw.com)

Joseph Dougherty, 73, former head of Philadelphia's largest ironworkers union, was sentenced Monday to 19 years and two months in federal prison after being convicted of overseeing a campaign of sabotage and intimidation of nonunion contractors including the 2012 torching of a Quaker Meetinghouse in Chestnut Hill. In addition, Dougherty will have to pay over $500,000 in restitution.

Dougherty is the last defendant of 12 to be sentenced in this case.

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