Massachusetts Polar Park’s Construction Firm To Pay $1.9M Fine for False Minority Hiring Allegations

Massachusetts Polar Park’s Construction Firm To Pay $1.9M Fine for False Minority Hiring Allegations

The joint venture company, Gilbane Building Co.-Hunt Construction Group Inc., has agreed to pay a $1.9 million fine to settle allegations by Massachusetts prosecutors that it misrepresented participation of woman- and minority-owned subcontractors on a city-funded minor league ballpark project.

According to a press release, the attorney general’s office announced the settlement of its suit against Providence, RI-based Gilbane and Indianapolis-based Hunt, the two companies who submitted its bid to serve as construction manager of publicly-owned stadium Polar Park in Worcester in 2019. The park is home to Boston Red Sox’s Worcester affiliate team, WooSox.

In the bid, the company pledged to give 20% of the work to women- and minority-owned businesses, the attorney general’s office said in a statement Thursday.

However, the attorney general’s office said, Gilbane-Hunt “did little” to encourage these firms to enlist in the multi-million dollar project, did not track participation, and failed to provide monthly updates to the Worcester Redevelopment Authority. These actions violated the state’s False Claims Act and consumer protection laws.

An investigation by the attorney general’s office, which was sparked by a GBH News investigation in April 2021, uncovered that Gilbane-Hunt reported “projected values” of 17-18% woman- and minority-owned business participation, when in fact the real-time status revealed that only 11-12% of the work was allocated.

“Construction companies in Massachusetts must live up to their promises to create opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses on public projects,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “If a company says that the inclusion of diverse businesses is a priority in an effort to win a public contract, we are going to ensure that they are held accountable for those representations.”

Another investigation found that the joint company withheld the nature of the investigation in 2021 and 2022 as required with the Massachusetts Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance.

As a result, Gilbane/Hunt will pay $1.9 million to the state and the attorney general’s office will return $500,000 to the City of Worcester as restitution. The proceeds of the settlement will be used to promote women and minority-owned business participation in government contracting.

For the next three years, Gilbane Building Company and Hunt Construction will employ a monitor to manage compliance with all contract requirements and state laws referring to woman- and minority-owned business participation on public construction projects.