ALJ Says Company’s Neutral Reference and Press Inquiry Policies Violate NLRA

If you are a retailer, you may have policies and procedures in place regarding who can speak on behalf of your company. Such policies may generally instruct employees not to speak to the press as a representative of the company, and to direct all media inquiries to a particular person or department. Similarly, if you are a retailer, you may have a policy in place that instructs employees to forward any reference requests to your human resources department. These commonplace policies allow retailers to control their public image and protect employee privacy, among other benefits. But, according to a recent decision by a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) administrative law judge (“ALJ”), such policies may violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by interfering with, restraining or coercing employees in their right to engage in concerted activity. Continue Reading

Recent Developments at the SEC for Retailers

Earlier this month, Jay Clayton was sworn in as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). He has begun assembling his front office staff, and wasted no time in appointing William Hinman as director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Robert Stebbins as general counsel. Each of the three were previously partners at prominent corporate law firms, and each has substantial experience in corporate governance, capital markets transactions and mergers and acquisitions. Continue Reading

Top 5 Insurance Coverage Issues for Private Equity Investors

Private equity investors face unique challenges when procuring or renewing their liability insurance programs. For example, investors typically must complete lengthy applications or sign warranty and representation letters from their prospective insurers that inquire into knowledge by any potential insured as to any acts or omissions that could potentially give rise to a claim. These overly broad, and often vague, inquiries are problematic for private equity investors who would theoretically have to interview every employee, manager or director at every subsidiary, fund and portfolio company (if insureds) to discern whether any person has knowledge of such an act or omission. Hunton insurance coverage attorneys Syed S. Ahmad and Andrea DeField recently authored an article in Bloomberg Law Securities Regulation & Law Report in which they address this issue and others as part of their Top 5 Coverage Issues Private Equity Investors Should Consider.

State Attorneys General and Target Resolve Investigation of 2013 Data Breach

On May 23, 2017, various Attorneys General of 47 states and the District of Columbia announced that they had reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target regarding the states’ investigation of the company’s 2013 data breach. This represents the largest multi-state data breach settlement achieved to date.  Continue Reading

Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

This past week, several consumer protection actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

NAD Recommends Kauai Coffee Discontinue and Modify Compost Claims

This week, NAD released their recommendations in their review of Kauai Coffee’s environmental claims for their single-serve coffee pod products. Kauai Coffee’s ads claim that the pods are “100% compostable,” but fail to clearly disclose that the pods are certified compostable only in industrial composting facilities, and are not suitable for home composting. While the pods are certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (“BPI”), BPI specified in its certification of the pods that they will disintegrate “swiftly and safely in a professionally managed composting facility.” NAD recommended that Kauai Coffee discontinue certain claims, and modify others to include the qualifying language: “Compostable in industrial facilities. Check locally, as these do not exist in many communities. Not certified for backyard composting.” Kauai Coffee said it will comply with NAD’s recommendations.
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Eleventh Circuit Decisions Demonstrate Difficulties in Analyzing Standing Following Spokeo

A year ago, the United States Supreme Court held in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins that a plaintiff must do more than plead a mere statutory procedural violation to establish standing; to plead an injury in fact, a plaintiff also must allege a harm that is both “concrete” and “particularized.” Two recent decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit – one involving a rare written dissent from the denial of a petition for rehearing en banc – demonstrate the continuing difficulties courts are facing in determining what constitutes a concrete injury under Spokeo. They suggest that the Eleventh Circuit is most likely to find standing for violations of statutes that are intended to protect personal privacy or create a right to information, although judges do not always agree as to which statutes fall within these categories. Continue Reading

If You Don’t “WannaCry” After a Cyber Attack, Review Your Cyber Insurance Coverage

As we previously reported, beginning last Friday, and still occurring today, one of the worst and most widespread malware attacks has impacted more than 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, including Britain’s National Health Service, FedEx, telecommunications companies Telefonica and Megafon, and automakers Renault and Nissan. The malware, known as “WannaCry,” disables the user’s computer system and all of its data. A note in a text file then appears stating that in order to unlock the computer, $300 worth of the digital currency bitcoin must be paid to the hackers. A countdown timer appears and the fee increases with time. The hackers threaten to delete all data on the computer system if payment is not sent within one week. Cybersecurity experts believe that the malware was sent to computers through “phishing attacks,” which are emails that appear to be from reputable sources and include a download to a link that allows the malware to infect the computer. From these computers, the malware then spreads to other computers on the network. One infected computer can spread this virus network-wide, and quickly. Continue Reading

Global Ransomware Attacks Raise Key Legal Considerations

On May 12, 2017, a massive ransomware attack began affecting tens of thousands of computer systems in over 100 countries. The ransomware, known as “WannaCry,” leverages a Windows vulnerability and encrypts files on infected systems and demands payment for their release. If payment is not received within a specified time frame, the ransomware automatically deletes the files. A wide range of industries have been impacted by the attack, including retailers and other businesses, hospitals, utilities and government entities around the world. Continue Reading

Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

This past week, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

The NAD Refers Sports Drink Maker to FTC

The NAD has referred BA Sports Nutrition, the maker of BodyArmor sports drinks, to the FTC after the advertiser failed to alter certain comparative ads. The ad at issue implores customers to “Ditch artificial Sports Drink[s]: artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors” and depicts a bottle of a competing sports drink. The NAD found that the ad implied that the competing sports drink contained artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors when, in fact, many of the competitor’s sports drinks did not. Continue Reading