On June 29, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D) signed into law Bill 318-A, also known as the Fair Chance Act (the “Act”), which limits an employer’s ability to ask about an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been given a conditional offer of employment. The bill was passed by the City Council overwhelmingly on June 11, 2015 with 45 yeas and 5 nays. By passing the Act, New York City joins 17 states and over 100 cities that have enacted similar legislation. The law will take effect on October 27, 2015, 120 days after the Act was signed into law.
What’s the News?
A California federal judge recently certified a class action lawsuit that alleges violations of California consumer protection laws by J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc. (J.C. Penney). Specifically, the class claims that J.C. Penney engaged in a misleading pricing scheme by promoting “sale” prices on items that may never have been offered for sale at the advertised “regular” price. This case is a reminder to retailers to ensure their “sales” reflect legitimate discounts on regular priced items.
Background on the Case
On June 29, 2015, PayPal’s General Counsel released a blog post indicating that the company will be tweaking its proposed revisions to its User Agreement regarding PayPal’s ability to send its customers autodialed or prerecorded messages. The changes to PayPal’s terms as originally proposed drew the ire of government regulators, including the Federal Communications Commission and the New York Attorney General. These regulators, as well as numerous consumer groups, asserted that PayPal’s proposed changes would conflict with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and its provisions prohibiting autodialed or prerecorded calls to consumers without obtaining consumers’ prior express consent.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released new guidance regarding the use of endorsements in advertising. The new guidance is a “must read” for marketers that feature endorsements from celebrities or consumers in their advertising, as well as for any companies that operate contests or sweepstakes on social media.
There is a split among circuit courts over whether a company faced with a privacy breach is subject to liability where a consumer suffers no discernible harm. The Supreme Court will hear a case this fall, Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, that will settle this important issue. The Court’s decision in Spokeo, expected in 2016, will likely have far-reaching implications for consumer privacy and data breach lawsuits filed under a number of federal statutes.
Plaintiff Thomas Robins filed a putative class action against Spokeo in federal court in California under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), claiming that Spokeo willfully violated the FCRA by disseminating inaccurate information about him on its website. The district court dismissed Robins’s complaint for lack of standing, reasoning that Robins failed to allege any actual harm that was traceable to Spokeo’s alleged statutory violations.
A California appeals court recently held that a retailer does not violate California privacy law by collecting and recording birth dates of consumers who buy alcohol with credit cards.
Plaintiff Mark Lewis purchased alcohol at a Safeway store in California. During the sales transaction, the clerk requested proof of Mr. Lewis’s age and then entered Mr. Lewis’s date of birth into the computerized cash register.
What’s the News?
A California appeals court recently held in Ambers v. Beverages & More, Inc. that retailers are permitted under state law to request customers’ personal information when goods are purchased online but picked up in person. While California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act (Song-Beverly) prohibits the collection of personal information in connection with many in-store transactions, courts have found it to have limited applicability to online purchases. Although the plaintiff Michael Ambers did collect the purchased goods in person, the court found that the transaction was completed online and, thus, that defendant BevMo had not violated the law by asking him to provide his address and telephone number.
This case is the latest in an ongoing effort by California courts to determine the scope of Song-Beverly—adopted in the 1971—in the digital economy.
On April 14, 2015, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed into law a measure that extends the applicability of the state's anti-discrimination laws to unpaid interns. The stated purpose of the law is to establish protections for interns and applicants for internships from discriminatory acts that are similar to those extended to regular paid employees. Maryland is following in the footsteps of states like New York, Oregon, and California that have already expanded such protection for interns.
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