On August 17, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) voted to adopt amendments to duplicative, overlapping, outdated or superseded disclosure rules for public companies. The new rules take effect on November 5, 2018 and are effective for all SEC filings made on or after that date. Continue Reading New SEC Disclosure Standards Effective November 5
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (“CPSIA”), which was signed into law on August 14, 2008. CPSIA was a bipartisan response to unsettling events in the world of consumer products that occurred in 2007. During that landmark year, reports emerged about lead contamination in a wide range of consumer products—including children’s toys—that forced the CPSC into the national spotlight and facilitated over 400 recalls. The CPSIA aimed to significantly enhance the CPSC’s regulatory and enforcement power by doubling its budget, increasing its staff levels, prohibiting the sale of recalled products and increasing its civil penalties. For example, before CPSIA, the CPSC could impose civil penalties in the amount of $8,000 per violation, with a maximum of $1.825 million. But in 2008, CPSIA increased significantly the amount of civil penalties to $100,000 per violation, with a maximum of $15 million, adjusted for inflation. Continue Reading Recall Roundup: August
The Federal Trade Commission announced the opening dates of its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century, a series of public hearings that discuss whether broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection law, enforcement priorities and policy. The FTC and Georgetown University Law Center will co-sponsor two full-day sessions of hearings on September 13 and 14, 2018, to be held at the Georgetown University Law Center facility.
Panelists at the hearings will consider, among other topics, the regulation of consumer data and whether the U.S. economy has become more concentrated and less competitive. The FTC invites public comment on any of the issues.
More information is available on the FTC’s website.
This past week, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.
FTC Used Car Lot Sweep Finds 70 Percent Compliance with New “Buyers Guide”
Last month, the FTC announced the results of its compliance sweep of 94 car dealerships in 20 cities across the country, conducted after the FTC’s amended Used Car Rule (the “Rule”) took effect earlier this year. The revised Rule requires dealers to display a revised “Buyers Guide” containing warranty and other important information—such as a new description of an “As Is” sale—on the window of each used car offered for sale. According to the FTC, 70 percent of the 2,300 vehicles inspected displayed a buyer’s guide; over half of those with the guide displayed the updated version. As a follow-up, the FTC sent letters to each dealership inspected, detailing their findings and providing businesses with guidance material to help aid in compliance. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup
Over the past year Hunton & Williams LLP (now Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP) has released articles discussing reform efforts related to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), which was created as a brand-new, start-up independent agency under Dodd-Frank. The first article was a discussion about the questions of the constitutionality of the CFPB due to its arguably unchecked authority to exercise executive power through the CFPB’s investigative and enforcement authority, legislative power through rulemaking authority, and judicial power through its authority to rule on enforcement actions with any appeals on such actions being taken to the director of the CFPB. Perhaps due to its unprecedented and unchecked power, one appellant panel held that the structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional, only to be reversed on the issue in an en banc opinion rendered on January 31, 2018. The focus then turned to the acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney, who some have argued was single-handedly destroying all the reform efforts the CFPB had successfully concluded under its former director, Richard Cordray. In the wake of all the controversy about the CFPB abusing its power or not yielding enough reform comes the latest development from the judicial branch regarding the structure of the CFPB, which again raises questions about the ability of the agency to bring new claims or perhaps even enforce past consent decrees.
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
California is the land of employment legislation, and 2018 is shaping up to be another year of change. We are less than six months into the year, and already several bills that could significantly impact California businesses—for better or for worse—are pending in the California legislature. Continue Reading Brace for Impact: Wave of Employment Bills Pending in California
Bumble Bee Foods’ woes continue to mount as its CEO, Christopher Lischewski, has been indicted for price fixing. The indictment alleges that Lischewski participated in the price fixing conspiracy from approximately November 2010 until about December 2013. Lischewski is not the first Bumble Bee executive to be charged: in late 2016 and early 2017, two Bumble Bee Senior Vice Presidents pled guilty to price fixing, and in May 2017, Bumble Bee agreed to pay $25 million in fines for price fixing. Continue Reading Bumble Bee CEO Indicted over Price Fixing Allegations
In a speech to the New York City Bar White Collar Crime Institute on May 9, 2018, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced a new Department of Justice (“DOJ”) policy intended to ensure coordination among DOJ departments and other enforcement agencies when pursuing penalties against corporations for violations arising out of the same conduct. The policy, incorporated into the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual at § 1-12.100, seeks to avoid imposition of duplicative penalties by “instructing Department components to appropriately coordinate with one another and with other enforcement agencies in imposing multiple penalties on a company in relation to investigations of the same misconduct.” Continue Reading DOJ Announces New Policy to Prevent Duplication of Corporate Penalties
This past week, several self-regulatory advertising decisions made retail headlines.
Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent Beaten by “Unbeatable” Claim
In response to a challenge brought by P&G, the NAD recommended that Reckitt Benckiser LLC, manufacturer of dishwasher detergent brand Finish Quantum, discontinue its claims that the detergent provides an “unbeatable clean.” After reviewing Finish Quantum’s test data, the NAD determined that the “evidence was not sufficiently reliable to support the challenged ‘unbeatable clean’ claim.” Finish Quantum can, however, continue use of its value claim that its product provides “25% more loads,” so long as the claim is qualified by adding the phrase, “based on retail pack size comparison” between Finish Quantum and leading alternatives such as Cascade Platinum. Reckitt Benckiser stated that it will comply with the NAD’s recommendations. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup