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Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert

 

AM MONTHLY LAW ALERT
October 2017
 

ENERGY                                                                                                                                                                         
Cost Reimbursable Contracts, No Risk - Right?
By Bart Turner

Contractors often consider cost reimbursable contracts as “little to no risk” with respect to the recovery of costs incurred.  However, this is not always the case and there are situations involving cost reimbursable contracts which cause contractors potentially serious financial harm. 

Many reimbursable contracts have a “not to exceed” budget.  While these contracts are not akin to a guaranteed max or lump sum, they do set limitations on how much a contractor can spend and for which reimbursement may be sought.  These contracts often contain provisions that if the contractor exceeds the “not to exceed” budget, the contractor is then taking the risk of doing that work at its costs. Contractors need to have well managed cost controls and make sure they have owner notice triggers that are available... Read More


EMPLOYMENT                                                                                                                                                               
DOL Inspections Increase; Title VII Sessions Memo
By Tony Stergio

The Department of Labor’s budget has been dramatically reduced nationwide, leading to the belief that DOL investigations (Wage & Hour, OSHA, EEOC) will decrease in number.  The DOL, however, has temporarily transferred inspectors from Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, El Paso and Dallas to the Houston area to deal with issues caused or exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey.  So, in the near term at least, the number of DOL inspections in this area will likely increase. 

Also, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a memo reversing the Department of Justice’s stance on gender identity protection.  The memo states that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination does not prohibit bias based on transgender status. The DOJ’s position, as stated in Sessions’ memo, runs contrary to the current position of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which treats discrimination against an individual because of gender identity, including transgender status and sexual orientation, as violations of Title VII.

The Sessions memo also bucks the trend of numerous Federal Circuit Courts (including the 5th Circuit, the federal court over Texas) which held that Title VII prohibits discriminating against a man for exhibiting traditional female characteristics or a female for exhibiting traditional male characteristics. It is unclear, therefore, what the impact of Sessions’ memo will be on transgender discrimination charges and lawsuits going forward.


COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE                                                                                                                                      
New Disclosure Rules for Selling Interests in a Contract to Purchase Real Property
By Scott McKaig

A recently-passed Texas law, effective September 1, 2017, places new restrictions and notice obligations for situations in which a person or entity who is under contract to purchase real property wants to sell or assign that contract to a different party (i.e., so that the new party can purchase the property in the original buyer’s place).  A party who fails to follow these new disclosure rules can be found to have engaged in real estate brokerage, which can be a serious issue if that party is not a licensed real estate broker.   

Specifically, the new law permits a person to enter into a contract to purchase real property and then sell or assign his or her interest in that purchase contract, without a real estate license, if the person: (i) does not use the option or contract to purchase to engage in real estate brokerage; and (ii) discloses the nature of the equitable interest to any potential buyer. Read More. 
ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                                                                                                                       
Andrews Myers Establishes an Energy Law Practice Group

Many of our attorneys have long been involved in the energy sector, working day-to-day with clients in this challenging and rapidly evolving industry, and so the formalization of our Energy Law practice group is a culmination and continuation of those efforts.  Based in the energy capital of the world – Houston, Texas – our energy practice group covers nearly every facet of the industry, with expertise and experience in working with firms that explore, develop, produce, store, market, service, transport or process energy resources. 

Four of our energy practice group attorneys are former in-house counsel for multinational firms in the LNG, petrochemical and chemical industries, which provides our team unique insight and practical, real-world experience over a broad range of complex issues.

We represent both publicly traded and privately held companies as well as financial institutions, private equity funds and regional energy firms.

For more information click here.


ACCOLADES                                                                                                                                                                  
Eight Attorneys Recognized in Texas "Super Lawyers"

Eight Andrews Myers attorneys from the firm’s Houston and Austin offices have been selected as Texas “Super Lawyers” for 2017.  Super Lawyers, the well-established lawyer rating service, has published this year’s survey results in Texas Super Lawyer magazine and in the October 2017 issue of Texas Monthly magazine.

The Eight Super Lawyers for 2017 are:
William K. “Bill” Andrews – Construction Litigation Practice
R. Carson Fisk – Construction Litigation Practice
Patrick O. Hayes – Corporate/Commercial Real Estate Practice
Thomas W. “Tom” Myers – Construction Law Practice
Anthony G. “Tony” Stergio – Labor and Employment Practice
Clayton Utkov – Construction Litigation Practice
W. Jason Walker – Construction Litigation Practice
William B. “Ben” Westcott – Construction Litigation Practice

Attorney selections for Super Lawyers are made through independent, third-party research and comprise no more than 5% of attorneys within the state of Texas. Nominees also undergo a peer review by practice group. 
FIRM CELEBRATIONS                                                                                                                                                  
Congratulations Are in Order:  Andrews Myers is pleased to announce that Katie Gourley and Julia Bennett Jean, two of our 2016 summer law clerks, have joined our Houston office.

Katie Gourley’s practice is devoted to commercial real estate, corporate and commercial transactions.  Prior to joining the firm, Katie served as a judicial intern in both the 359th District Court and County Court at Law 3.  While at Baylor University School of Law, Katie was a recipient of the Dean’s Academic Excellence Full-Tuition Scholarship Award, and also received the James R. Dickson Jr. Award for Excellence in Commercial Law.

Julia Bennett Jean’s practice focuses on both construction litigation and alternative dispute resolution, in which she represents general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and owners in a variety of construction related disputes, as well as labor and employment litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Julia served as a judicial clerk to Justice Harvey Brown of the First Court of Appeals, where she wrote opinion drafts and memoranda evaluating the grant-worthiness of petitions for review.  Julia also served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Vanessa D. Gilmore in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
AUSTIN OFFICE RELOCATES THIS WEEKEND                                                                                                         
919 Congress Avenue

Our Austin Office is moving this weekend!  On October 31st, you can find our Austin team in our new offices at
919 Congress Avenue, Suite 1050, Austin, TX 78701.

Our new 5,000 sf office is located just one block from Austin’s Capitol Complex, plays hosts to many legal, political and commercial firms, and offers unique views of the Texas State Capitol.

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