Susan Lent Quoted in Construction Dive Article on Local Hiring Requirements for Contractors

Construction Dive has quoted Akin Gump litigation partner Susan Lent in the article “The Dotted Line: How contractors can navigate local hiring requirements,” which examines the practice of imposing certain requirements on public works projects to ensure that a predetermined percentage of a job’s workforce comes from within the project’s surrounding area.

Lent, the head of Akin Gump’s infrastructure and transportation practice, said that, at the federal level, hiring based on geography is not permitted in the interest of full and open competition. Public agencies, she said, have to try to secure the best value, which has been interpreted as prohibiting local hiring preferences.

Private construction companies, the article notes, are not subject to the same rules, and contractors on Detroit’s new Little Caesars Arena, for example, have been fined almost $3 million through March 2018 for falling short of the city’s 51 percent local hiring requirement. The companies are said to have acted in good faith to increase their local recruiting efforts, but have still been unable to meet those goals due to a lack of qualified workers.

To avoid facing similar legal and financial ramifications, Lent said, contractors should include caveats that protect against unavoidable situations. That can mean a waiver exempting contractors from meeting hiring requirements if there truly are not enough skilled, local workers.