Back in October 2015, the New Orleans City Council enacted a local hiring law to combat poverty and unemployment. The program dubbed “Hire Nola” by the administration requires contractors to make a “good faith effort” to hire local sourced labor when working on big city projects worth $150,000 or more. It also extends these hiring requirements to “disadvantaged” groups in the city such as homeless and long-term unemployed laborers.

Construction unions have been against Hire Nola from the start, arguing that it constitutes governmental overreaching that places an unfair burden on private businesses. Labor groups originally greeted the law with enthusiasm, but they now say the proposed drafts rules that emerged in 2016 have left far too many loopholes for contractors to get around the hiring requirements. The law has also been criticized as being too vague to put into practice.

The administration provided some guidance as to what a “good faith effort” under Hire Nola means:

  • 30% of labor on big city projects sourced locally starting in 2016.
  • 50% of labor on big city projects sourced locally by 2020.
  • Contractors urged to hire from local training and job-readiness programs.
  • Contractors are required to keep a record of applicants contact from such programs and provide justifications for any rejected applicants.
  • Job openings must be posted at local union halls.

Contractors who fail to meet the hiring percentages can be denied future contracts from the city. The city may consider failure to hire applicants from city training programs and local union halls as a material breach of contract.

This raises serious concerns for contractors in New Orleans. Critics of the law say it is too vague and that means the administration will be making up rules as they go along. Regardless of what you may think about the law, however, for now it seems to be what the city is going to do. Understanding what your obligations are under Hire NOLA and making sure your business complies should be a top priority for any contractor working on local big city jobs in 2016.

The Smiley Law Group is experienced in resolving contractor disputes with the city. We ready to fight for you employing whatever legal means necessary to make sure you are treated fairly under the law. Whether that means negotiating with the city or going to court, we’ve got your back. If you have a construction contract dispute, contact one our attorneys today for a free consultation.

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