Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay employees overtime based on their “regular rate.” Various states, including California, also follow the FLSA regular rate definitions. For non-exempt employees paid only on an hourly rate, determining the regular rate is easy: It is the hourly rate. However, matters can be tricky when an employer also pays non-exempt employees additional compensation, such as bonuses or commissions. In many cases, additional amounts paid must be included in determining the regular rate.
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Walgreens recently settled with the state of New York over allegations that the drug retail chain misled consumers with its pricing, including value and clearance prices. According to the New York attorney general’s office, an undercover investigation showed that Walgreens was overcharging customers compared to the prices displayed in print advertising and on-shelf tags. Walgreens agreed to pay $500,000 to settle the dispute and has agreed to review and correct the allegedly misleading pricing practices.
California has myriad laws giving employees the ability to take various paid or unpaid leaves. Some cities impose even broader paid sick leave mandates. Now, starting January 1, 2017, larger employers with employees working in San Francisco will have to provide employees with paid parental leave to bond with a new child. On July 1, 2017, the ordinance expands to cover smaller employers.
Store credits not redeemable for cash are not unclaimed property under California's Unclaimed Property Law (UPL). In Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. v. Chiang, Case No. 37-2014-12491 (Super Ct. San Diego, Cal. Mar. 4, 2016), the Superior Court issued summary judgment in favor of the national retail chain, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., holding that merchandise credits not redeemable for cash are not subject to the UPL and also qualify for an exemption under the UPL for gift certificates that do not expire.
Fashion companies deal with trade secrets and other confidential information all the time. Whether it is proprietary information regarding customers, pricing, sourcing, product design or manufacturing methods, this valuable intellectual property provides a competitive edge in the market by virtue of the fact that it is not generally known.
Why does it matter? This seemingly inconsequential distinction may mean the difference between being able to prominently display your embroidered brand trademark on your jeans and being required to place a large “Made in China” marking next to the embroidered brand trademark. This is exactly what US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) attempted to do to the jeans manufacturer JBLU, Inc., whose “C’est Toi Jeans USA” trademark had been in use, but not yet registered.
US Customs and Border Protection has provided details on recent changes to the law that prohibits imports made of convict, forced, or indentured labor. The Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015 repealed the “consumptive demand” exemption to the ban on imports made by “forced labor.” The repeal became effective on March 10, 2016.
Prior to the changes, there had been an exemption to the ban if goods were not mined, produced or manufactured in such quantities in the United States as to meet the consumptive demands of the United States.
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J Crew Group Inc. was recently hit with a nationwide class action lawsuit alleging that the clothing retailer offers fictitious sales on the J Crew Factory store website. According to the complaint, while items throughout the site are offered at “sale” prices, they are never actually sold at the higher “valued at” price listed to advertise potential savings. Asserting that the company’s pricing strategy violates dozens of state consumer protection laws, the complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.