The retail clients Morgan Lewis represents operate in an extraordinarily broad array of markets, consumer segments, and geographies—from regional chains to ecommerce operators to multinational corporations. Despite their differences, our retail clients face similar challenges, and they look to Morgan Lewis for innovative and efficient ways to deal with those challenges.
In April, Morgan Lewis lawyers, general counsel and senior in-house counsel, and executives from leading retail companies met at our 12th Annual Retail Roundtables in Chicago to discuss the legal, operational, and regulatory issues they face with their employees, operations team, government, consumers, and vendors, as well as business trends, best practices, and opportunities to reduce risk, benchmark with others, mitigate damages, and obtain good results in litigation.
Our areas of focus included labor and employment and some regulatory matters, during which guests discussed wage and hour issues, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III claims and compliance, complex employment litigation, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), union concerns, and a variety of other types of claims and issues. In the litigation and retail operations roundtable, participants addressed privacy and cybersecurity, price comparison advertising, auto renewal issues, and arbitration clauses and class action waivers.
With 300 Chambers-recognized lawyers, Morgan Lewis offers the services of one of the preeminent retail industry practices in the United States. Our multispecialty teams represent more than 300 “big box” retail, general merchandise, apparel, pharmacy, toy, restaurant, grocery, hospitality, and ecommerce clients as they navigate through the ever-evolving consumer response to their businesses and globalizing supply chain, capital, and cost structures. Because of our broad depth of experience involving a diverse mix of brick-and-mortar and online businesses and counseling on everything from litigation and labor and employment matters, to privacy, accessibility, transactions, government regulations, and other related matters, we can handle a broad range of legal matters that touch retail. Learn more about our retail services.
Our lawyers stay on top of important retail industry developments. Read our recent “Retail Did You Know” LawFlash on the latest Federal Trade Commission settlement involving social media posts and native ads, “FTC Complaint Highlights the Need to Disclose Material Connections in Ads;” and about two recent California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment actions related to the application of Proposition 65 to bisphenol A (BPA), “Important Developments for Prop 65 Application to BPA.”
Partner Anne Marie Estevez (who defends clients in complex, class, and collective action employment, ADA, and public accessibility cases in US federal and state court) and partner Greg Parks (who co-chairs Morgan Lewis’s privacy and cybersecurity and retail practices and helps clients with consumer-facing litigation and issues) sat down with us to discuss the challenges and opportunities for retailers in 2016.
What makes our Retail Roundtables series such a success?
Definitely the participants and the conversation. It’s not a “talking heads” seminar, but rather the concept is to bring together a sophisticated group of lawyers from various companies and a select few from Morgan Lewis who specialize in the most significant issues affecting retailers today. The guests and clients are from the world’s best retail companies. They have an opportunity to benchmark with one another and hear from our lawyers who specialize in particular areas, and, together, the group discusses best practices, learning from others’ successes and mistakes. This unique opportunity is what keeps retailers requesting seats for this event.
What are the biggest risks retail companies face right now?
Those we hear come up most often are wage and hour issues—particularly under the ever-changing state laws and the US Department of Labor looking to raise the salaries for those retailers that have been classified as exempt under one or more of the white collar exemptions—and cybersecurity issues and data breaches. Surveys show that retail boards of directors, CEOs, and general counsel are quite concerned about data breaches as hackers become increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to steal credit card numbers and other personal information. A single incident can have a devastating impact on a company’s brand, reputation, and bottom line, especially if the matter is not promptly and appropriately responded to and remediated.
The Morgan Lewis team focusing on ADA matters has been busy assisting retailers. Tell us a bit more about that.
Retailers are being inundated with various types of public accommodation claims, from issues with their brick-and-mortar stores to their Internet sites and kiosks in their stores. And, unlike in the past, the volume of these cases has skyrocketed, particularly in the class action area. Our ADA group has been counseling clients, and has successfully avoided all litigation for dozens of clients, and has obtained resolutions without any payment for those who are in substantial compliance with the law.
What sets our retail industry services apart?
We are a true “one-stop shop” for all legal issues affecting retailers. If it is important to retailers, it is important to us. We never have to reinvent the wheel. We know the industry, the business, and the significant challenges faced by retailers, and we relish hearing our retail clients say “Wow—they really get it” when dealing with us.