Verdict on J.E. Dunn’s minority hiring put off again

The Kansas City Tax-Increment Financing Commission delayed a final judgment on J.E. Dunn’s alleged use of front companies to meet minority hiring goals during its construction of H&R Block’s world headquarters.

Allegations that Dunn overreported minority participation on the Block project first surfaced in a 2005 lawsuit filed by a group of Hispanic contractors. The suit turned up evidence that several minority contractors served as fronts for non-minority businesses. In the most striking example, a minority electrician, Ralph Rodriguez, repackaged a bid from R.F. Fisher with a small markup for “minority participation.” Rodriguez later stated in an affidavit that he did not perform significant work on the nearly $3 million contract.

Last December, the city’s Human Relations Department concluded that Rodriguez did not perform a “commercially useful function.” Dunn representatives said Rodriguez had “duped” J.E. Dunn and H&R Block, the party ultimately responsible for compliance with the affirmative-action policy.

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