News & Press: News

HCA Hosted its First “Ask a Lawyer” Luncheon

Thursday, August 15, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Mark Dubuisson

August 2013
by Jeff Nielsen

The Houston Contractors Association was pleased to host its first ever “Ask a Lawyer” luncheon this month featuring four of our most prestigious legal members.  This was an opportunity for our membership to ask any type of legal question that they may have and get an answer for free from the panel.  Some of the questions were pre-prepared but most came from the floor and covered topics such as liens, liability and employee issues to name a few.  Leading the program as its moderator was Mr. Curtis Martin with the firm of Ford, Nassen & Baldwin.  The panel was made up by Allison Snyder of Porter & Hedges, Katherine Mize of Mize, Minces & Clark and Tony Stergio of Andrews Myers.  The event was educational and very entertaining.  Here is a list of the questions answered by the panel.  Sorry I could not include the responses, these were attorneys after all and their answers were usually quite detailed.

1) In Texas law, what protection does a construction consultant have against clients that do not pay their invoices?  Specifically, are there any contract clauses that can be added to construction consultant services contracts to protect the consultant in the case of nonpayment by his/her client? Does this protection differ from a municipal client to a private client?

2) Can an employee’s last paycheck be taken to pay for tools and safety gear they used on the job or to pay for damage to equipment?

3) What can and can’t I consider now when conducting criminal background checks on new hires?

4) A survey was performed and the property was located in Zone X.  A couple of weeks later, there was a request to make a change or correction on the survey.  During this lapse of time the FEMA Maps changed and the property is then located in Zone AE.  Are we correct in leaving the Flood Zone as Zone X since this was the Zone designation at the time of survey?

5) Will the Texas Anti-Indemnity statute protect my construction company if I agree to indemnify the owner against their sole negligence?

6) Can an hourly employee file for reduced work hours for rain delays and/or non-paid holidays and can the Contractor insert statements in the “Employee Handbook” to offset any of these claims?  

7) What do I do after receiving a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration concerning an employee?   

8) The City of Houston has adopted a policy of making contractors responsible for all of the work that is on the plans even if the work does not show up on any of the bid elements on these unit price contracts.  What do you think of this practice?

9) How does a Bond Claim work & how does that protect the contractor, is it worth anything? Where are the teeth?

10) Can I re-classify an employee as an independent contractor if he/she requests it?  

11) Am I required to compensate an employee for time spent in training?  What about drive time?

12) Are no damages for delay clauses enforceable and can a clause saying I have inspected the sight bar a claim for differing site conditions?

13) What if the owner is directing a change, but won’t put it in writing?