Activist investors continue to make liberal use of the SEC’s Rule 14a-8 to submit proposals for inclusion in company proxy statements. One of the most important shareholder trends to emerge from 2018 is the increasing involvement and support of large institutional investors in certain campaigns. Crisis management was one area in particular that institutional investors prioritized and sought disclosure on in 2018. Highly charged current events such as the MeToo Movement, the opioid crisis and the debate over gun safety, for example, have led shareholders at some of the largest retailers and manufacturers to urge greater disclosure on the reputational risks of these issues.
On January 17, 2019, Hunton Andrews Kurth’s retail industry team, composed of more than 200 lawyers across practices, released their annual Retail Industry Year in Review publication.
In a 2017 interview, Nigel Travis, former CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, stated that “delivery will be the next wave” in the restaurant industry and that it would “be like a revolution,” occurring “faster than anyone thinks.” Travis was not wrong; in fact, recent statistics shared by Melissa Wilson at the 2018 Restaurant Leadership Conference show Travis’ prediction quickly taking hold – 86% of consumers are using off-premise delivery services at least monthly and one third of consumers are using it more than they did a year ago. By some estimates, delivery services are projected to grow at least 12% per year over the next five years. While a handful of restaurants are filling the delivery demand themselves, more and more restaurants are looking to third-party delivery service providers to help them connect with the consumer. In fact, “third-party delivery services like UberEats, Grubhub, and Postmates currently represent $9 billion in restaurant sales today, and they are predicted to account for $16 billion in sales by 2022.”
As the new year gets off to a start, employers in the retail industry will be making wage adjustments to meet current and future minimum wage increases. Employees in 21 states around the country will see their state’s minimum wage increase.
As reported on the Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives blog, the NLRB’s Office of the General Counsel (“the General Counsel”) recently issued an internal directive regarding the manner in which NLRB Regions prosecute duty of fair representation charges against unions. Under the National Labor Relations Act, unions have a duty of fair representation to the members of the bargaining unit it represents by engaging in conduct that is not arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith, particularly with regard to the processing of worker grievances. Board law has established (and unions typically offer as a defense) that “mere negligence” alone does not amount to arbitrary conduct that would serve to breach the duty of fair representation. Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Elevates Standard for Unions’ Duty of Fair Representation
As reported on the Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives blog, the ongoing opioid epidemic is causing employers to consider the best ways to ensure a safe workplace, but companies should be careful when addressing employees’ prescription drug use. Recent court filings and settlements by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) illustrate the potential pitfalls employers face when attempting to implement a drug-free workplace. Continue Reading Employers’ Prescription Drug Use Policies Coming Under Scrutiny
The increase in the use of noncompetition agreements in industries such as retail and food service has caught the eye of several state legislatures, and they are beginning to take measures to curb the trend.
A Massachusetts law recently signed will limit employers’ ability to restrict hourly workers from engaging in competitive work after the end of their employment. The bill, signed by the governor on August 10, 2018, and effective October 1, 2018, prohibits employers from enforcing employment noncompetition agreements against employees who are classified as nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In effect, the law will eliminate an employer’s ability to limit where hourly retail employees can work after the end of their employment, even if they want to go to work for a direct competitor. Continue Reading Trend Setter? Massachusetts Bans Noncompetes for Nonexempt Workers
As posted on the Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives blog, many in the labor community are familiar with the Machinists Union’s (“Union”) long running effort to unionize Boeing’s South Carolina-based 787 Dreamliner manufacturing facility. After failing in two previous attempts to organize the entire facility, the Union recently won a bid to organize a “micro-unit” limited to a group of flight line technicians and inspectors. The Regional Director’s decision to approve the Union’s proposed bargaining unit took most labor practitioners by surprise, given the NLRB’s recent decision in PCC Structurals overturning the controversial Specialty Healthcare standard that facilitated the formation of micro-units. In PCC Structurals, the NLRB rejected the Specialty Healthcare test and reaffirmed that in reviewing representation petitions, the NLRB cannot limit its analysis to the interests of employees in the proposed bargaining group and instead must make a “meaningful” evaluation of the interests of those excluded from the group. Continue Reading Business Groups Support Boeing’s Appeal in Controversial NLRB Bargaining Unit Case
As website accessibility lawsuits continue to surge, places of public accommodation oftentimes battle multiple lawsuits filed by different plaintiffs represented by different attorneys. Even after entering into private settlements, which include detailed website remediation plans, defendants may continue to be the target of these lawsuits by copycat plaintiffs. The Eleventh Circuit recently addressed this dynamic head-on, and held that a private settlement entered into by Hooters and a first-filed plaintiff did not moot a nearly identical, later-filed website accessibility lawsuit by a different plaintiff. This case underscores the importance of quickly remediating website accessibility issues, as well as taking care to draft settlement agreements to maximize arguments that future lawsuits are barred. Continue Reading Website Accessibility Update: Eleventh Circuit Holds a Private Settlement with One Plaintiff Will Not Moot a Nearly Identical Lawsuit By Another
Oregon’s Fair Work Week Act (also known as Oregon’s predictive scheduling law) (the “Act”) is proceeding full speed ahead and will add significant challenges and costs for retailers. The majority of the Act goes into effect on July 1, 2018. Following similar ordinances regulating employee hours passed at municipal levels in Emeryville, California; New York City; San Francisco; San Jose; Seattle; and Washington, D.C., Oregon becomes the latest jurisdiction and the first state to enact a predictive scheduling law. Continue Reading Oregon Becomes Latest Jurisdiction and First State to Enact Predictive Scheduling Law