On January 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law a wage equity ordinance that makes it unlawful for an employer in the city of Philadelphia to ask about the wage history of a prospective employee at any stage of the hiring process. Under the new law, an employer may not condition employment on the job candidate’s disclosure of their wage history (which includes fringe benefits) or refuse to hire a candidate because of their refusal to respond to an inquiry about their past wages. The ordinance also prohibits employers from relying on a candidate’s wage history in order to determine the amount that it will offer a candidate unless the candidate has “knowingly and willingly” disclosed such information to the employer during the hiring process. Continue Reading Philadelphia Becomes First City to Prohibit Employers from Inquiring About Prospective Employees’ Past Earnings

The City of Philadelphia has issued new code requirements for construction worker safety training. The new rules went into effect on October 1, 2015, and the Department of Licenses and Inspections has announced that strict enforcement will begin on April 1, 2016.

Under the new regulations, all contractors and employees (including subcontractors) performing construction or demolition work in the City of Philadelphia for which permits have been issued are now required to complete OSHA 10 safety training, or an approved equivalent. This requirement applies to all trades, as well as state-registered home improvement contractors. Workers are required to carry written proof establishing that they have completed an OSHA 10 training course while on the job site, and their employers must also maintain on-site proof of completion for each worker. This information must be furnished to the Department of Licenses and Inspections upon request. The OSHA 10 training is only required to be completed once and does not expire.

Additionally, all contractors licensed under Section 9-1004 of the Philadelphia Code must employ at least one supervisory employee who has completed OSHA 30 safety training, or an approved equivalent, within the past 5 years. Construction or demolition of major buildings requires continuous oversight by a site safety manager who has completed an OSHA 30 course. The designated site safety manager must carry an identification card or certificate of completion issued by the provider of the OSHA 30 training course.

Continue Reading Attention Philadelphia Contractors: Do You Comply with OSHA Training and Supervision Requirements?

Please join us for Ed Seglias‘ presentation at the Design-Build Institute of America Tri-State Chapter Inaugural Event on October 6, 2015 in Philadelphia. Ed and Kevin Peartree of Ernstrom & Dreste will discuss and compare form contracts commonly used in Design-Build Projects including AIA, Consensus Docs and EJCDC Design-Build Forms. Their discussion will highlight the benefits and risks associated with the standard forms for owners, contractors and designers alike. Talking points include:

  • How do the different forms address: Early Phases of a Design-Build Project, Setting the Price, Standards of Care, Performance Guarantees, Site Information, Responsibilities of the Owner, Contractor, and Designer, and Ownership of Documents.
  • What the design-build subcontractor should look for: Performance Based Contract, Scope of Work, Incorporation by Reference, and Flow-Down Clauses.
  • What you need in a Design-Build Teaming Agreement: Structure of the Team, Risk/Reward Sharing, Design-Builder and A/E Services, and Risk Allocation.

For more information and to register, please go to the DBIA Website

Join Cohen Seglias’ Labor & Employment Group, including speakers Marc Furman, Jonathan Landesman, Shawn R. Farrell, and Steven M. Williams for a seminar on cutting edge labor and employment law issues impacting your business, April 30th at the Union League in Philadelphia and May 6th at the Hershey Country Club.

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Topics include:

• A Year In Review And A Look Ahead

• My Employees Can’t Sue Me For That, Can They?

• Dotting Your I’s And Crossing Your T’s: Agreements and Policies In The Workplace

This program has been approved for 3 CLE & CPE credits.

Continental breakfast starts at 8:00AM, the seminar begins at 8:30AM and ends at noon. For questions and to register please contact Rachel McNally at 215.564.1700 or rmcnally@cohenseglias.com.

As we reflect upon the past year, few in the Delaware Valley will forget the fateful day in June when a building located at 22nd and Market Streets collapsed in the midst of demolition work performed by contractor Griffin Campbell, which claimed six lives. In an effort to improve safety and prevent such tragedies from recurring, the City of Philadelphia took swift action in an effort to improve the process through which contractors obtain demolition permitting.

building permit.jpgIn the City’s latest effort to improve upon safety, Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections Department (L&I) has issued new permitting and licensure requirements that took effect last week. The new requirements apply to all contractors conducting business in the City of Philadelphia. Permit applicants will be required to provide a Tax Clearance form and a Certificate of Insurance, and license holders will be required to clearly display license information on the job site and on business materials.

Applications for Construction and Demolition Permits

In the past, Philadelphia has required Tax Clearance certifications for limited situations such as zoning appeals. Now, the rules require all permit applicants to provide a Tax Clearance form certifying that the applicant is in compliance with, or intends to work with the City to cure any violations of, the tax and regulatory provisions of The Philadelphia Code. Contractors can obtain the Tax Clearance forms at the Department of Revenue’s website.

Permit applicants also must provide Certificates of Insurance to demonstrate appropriate insurance coverage for the work to be performed. These certificates are available from a contractor’s insurer, and must contain the following basic information:

  • indicate current general liability, workers’ compensation and automobile liability coverage;
  • reflect minimum general liability coverage of $500,000;
  • describe the type of operations/work covered by the insurance;
  • name the City of Philadelphia as Certificate Holder and an Additional Insured; and,
  • include contact name and phone number of the contractor’s insurance broker or agent.

Display of License Information

In addition to the new tax clearance and insurance certificate requirements, contractors should also be aware that recent changes to Title 9 of the Philadelphia Code have made display requirements significantly more stringent. Philadelphia Code Section 9-1004 lays out the requirements for trade license holders, including for all contractors, registered master plumbers, electrical contractors, warm air installers and fire suppression system contractors. The Code now requires all licensees to display their license number in the following places:

  • each job site;
  • business signage;
  • advertisements;
  • stationery / correspondence;
  • proposals and contracts; and,
  • all company vehicles when used during the course of business.

The Code requires the displays to be at least two (2) inches high and clearly visible. Unauthorized transfer or sharing of license numbers or failure to display required license information may result in license suspension, fines, or license revocation.

In addition to public health and safety, another reason for these additional requirements is the generation of revenue to offset compliance and enforcement activities. Though the City, through a spokeswoman for L&I, has acknowledged that the new requirements would not have prevented contractor Griffin Campbell from obtaining a permit to demolish the property at 22nd and Market Streets, these latest requirements represent a continued effort to shore up construction safety in the City. They also present new hoops through which City contractors must jump in order to obtain permitting for City construction and maintain and valid license to perform work in the City. For more information about how these requirements affect you and your business, feel free to contact us.

Daniel E. Fierstein is an Associate in the Construction Group of Cohen Seglias and focuses his practice on construction law. Dan counsels clients at all tiers of the construction industry, including general contractors, subcontractors, owners, developers, and design professionals.

Catherine Nguyen is an Associate in the Construction Group and concentrates her practice in the area of construction litigation. She has represented clients in construction litigation, contract disputes, landlord-tenant matters and consumer protection cases.

After a tragic Ride the Ducks accident in July on the Delaware River, Ride the Ducks Philadelphia is proposing to construct a new route through the city. The company is looking to build a $1 million trench leading into the Schuylkill River near Martin Luther King Drive. This path would be built under a section of the current trail that is frequently used by bicyclists and joggers in the summer.

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The design of this new path leaves many skeptics, as it creates a lot of engineering concerns. Joseph Syrnick, President of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation says:

There is a lot of work they need to do engineering-wise. In addition to enabling the ducks to negotiate a steep grade, the design must ensure that the boats can enter the water at low tide. The route also must not disrupt the park’s verdant aesthetic. The company will have to conceal the trench walls with plants or other cover.

Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration believes that even with the engineering challenges, this is the best option for the company, as well as the city. Richard Negrin, Managing Director of the Nutter Administration says, “I happen to think that this is what’s best for the city overall. I also think the Schuylkill is a more attractive, better option from the business aspect. It’s more picturesque.”

Ride the Ducks has hired Duffield Associates, based out of Wilmington, Delaware, to head up the project and oversee all of the construction.

The plan for the new routes does have a few major hurdles to overcome before breaking ground, including the approval of the water route by the U.S. Coast Guard, which is still awaiting the results of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the July accident, along with obtaining construction permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Philadelphia.

A public hearing is being scheduled in Philadelphia, where City Council will hear arguments for and against allowing Ride the Ducks the right-of-way entrance into the river. The Departments of Parks and Recreation, Streets and Planning will also review the project.

The new route for the tour would take passengers through Old City, City Hall and the Parkway before heading onto the Schuylkill for 20 minutes.

We will continue to monitor this project and update on its developments.

Mayor Michael Nutter recently announced that construction will move forward on the proposed $70 million Mormon Temple.

The temple is expected to open in 2013 and the proposed location is 18th and Vine Streets.   While the temple’s opening will be historic moment for the Mormon community, its construction is significant to the Philadelphia community.  Once the temple gets zoning and other approvals, 300 new construction jobs will be associated with the project.

Also on deck, a number of Philadelphia projects that are part of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Revenue, Capital and Debt’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program have recently been approved by the state’s General Assembly.   Once approved by Governor Rendell, these projects will be a go.

One of the projects awaiting approval is $5 million worth of capital improvements on the Independence Visitors Center.  Making the Center a green building is a priority.  “One of my goals is to make this a green building, if possible.  It could include solar panels, lighting, HVAC systems,” said Jim Cuorato, the director of Center, and former Philadelphia city Commerce Director.   Philadelphia has a long history of being green and the City of Brotherly Love is currently the 8th-most sustainable city in the country.   The number of green construction opportunities both in Philadelphia and across the country is expected to grow in the future.  Accordingly, it’s no surprise that green construction is a topic that has been generating a lot of Buzz.

To read more about green construction and LEED certification, click here.  Christopher P. Soper is an associate at Cohen Seglias and focuses his practice on construction law.  Mr. Soper is among the few attorneys in Philadelphia accredited by the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED® Accredited Professional (LEED AP).