Lindsay K. Taft / Ahlers & Cressman
The City of Seattle’s City Purchasing & Contracting Services recently revised its General Special Provisions for City construction contracts to add new “Acceptable Worksite” language. The City indicates that the purpose of the provisions is “to ensure that City construction worksites are respectful and appropriate, including prohibiting bullying, hazing, and other similar behaviors.” An “acceptable worksite” is defined as a worksite “that is appropriate, productive and safe work for all workers” and “free from behaviors that may impair production and/or undermine the integrity of the work conditions including but not limited to job performance, safety, productivity or efficiency of workers.”
Prohibited behaviors under the new specification provisions include persistent offensive conduct and language, hazing, offensive jokes about race, gender or sexuality; assigning undesirable tasks or unskilled work to trained apprentices and journey-level workers, refusal to hire based on race, gender, or sexuality, and references to or requests for immigration status. The new program also includes monitoring, response and enforcement of the provisions by City Purchasing and Contracting Services employees. Finally, the language must also be incorporated into all sub-tier contracts on City projects.
While the intent behind the City’s new specification language is laudable, regrettably, the new language is vague and could result in potential interpretation and enforcement issues for contractors. With potential remedies including all contractual, civil or criminal remedies, including debarment, these new provisions are not to be taken lightly. A copy of the new language can be found here.
Lindsay Taft of Ahlers & Cressman is the chair of AGC of Washington’s Legal Affairs Committee.