The Rochester-based building contractor selected to replace the ousted DiPizio Construction Company last July on the Buffalo waterfront's much-hyped replica canals project is named as a defendant in a discrimination lawsuit by a minority owned company in connection with work on the first phase of the troubled $1.3 billion Rochester schools modernization program.
The suit naming the Pike Company and several other defendants including contractors and the school district and city, was filed last month by Homeguard Environmental Services, Inc., of Rochester, a subcontractor on the $325 million first phase of the renovation project that began last year.
In its lawsuit, Homeguard claims that Pike, as program manager for the project, and other defendants sought bids from qualified minority owned businesses to help meet diversity goals but while enjoying the benefits that went along with their status, Pike and the others did not pay Homeguard for extensive work it performed outside the scope of its contract.
Homeguard is seeking damages of $588,674 for which it has not been paid "and which have, at said defendants' direction, inure to the benefit of said defendants," according to the lawsuit.
And Homeguard alleges it was discriminated against when managers failed to require "other contractors and subcontractors to comply with minority hiring mandates and directives on the Project, but holding Homeguard to such hiring and directives," in effect denying Homeguard equal protection under the law.
Homeguard alleges that by their acts and omissions, which constituted racially discriminatory practices, the defendants "provided white owned and operated companies with opportunities for completing the work on the project that Homeguard was denied."
The Pike Company did not respond to a request for comment on the schools' project which is currently at a standstill after revelations that the FBI is investigating possible fraud which allegedly includes bid rigging and kickbacks which could threaten funding for the next round of projects, according to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
No targets have been named as yet in the federal probe, but for the record a number of minority-and-women-owned businesses have complained they were listed as subcontractors in bid documents by construction firms needing to meet diversity goals but they were never used and, at times, never told.
Pike, of Rochester, was chosen to replace DiPizio on the $20 million Canalside project on Buffalo's waterfront last September two months after the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation terminated the local firm (DiPizio) for allegedly not meeting the scheduled timetable on the project.
DiPizio is challenging the termination in a costly legal battle that has cost the state more than a half-million dollars in legal fees paid to a Buffalo law firm, Phillips Lytle, with new offices adjoining the replica canals project. The state is challenging a major court ruling favoring DiPizio in the legal fight, and arguments were heard last month by the Appellate Division.