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Category Archives: Compliance

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The Ascendency of Accessibility: Surge in Website Lawsuits Continues

Posted in Compliance, Employment, Restaurants, Retail, Technology

The proliferation of accessibility lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has not abated. It is well-documented that ADA-related litigation increased by 37% from 2015 to 2016, which is symptomatic of long-term trends. Growth is fueled in part by litigants’ increased focus on internet-based technologies, including websites and mobile applications. This… Continue Reading

Oh the Sidewalks Outside Are Frightful, But Landlords Will Make Them Delightful… or Will They?

Posted in Compliance, Landlords, Leasing, Real Estate, Retail, Tenant

Although we haven’t seen much snow accumulation in the northeast to date, we know that this can (and likely will) change before the warmer weather returns. Before the snow really begins to fall, it would behoove both landlords and tenants to become informed about their snow clearing responsibilities and to ensure removal plans are in… Continue Reading

May your Days be Merry and Blue Laws Compliant

Posted in Compliance, Holiday, Retail, Retail Sales

‘Tis the season to eat turkey, drink pumpkin-flavored lattes, and, of course, shop.  With Black Friday and the holiday season just around the corner, it is important for retailers to remember that Massachusetts has specific laws that restrict when and if businesses can operate on Sundays and holidays and that address employee compensation and scheduling… Continue Reading

FACTA Check: Credit and Debit Receipts Can Show Injury-in-Fact

Posted in Compliance, Litigation, Retail, Retail Sales

In a series of recent decisions that have important implications for retailers, large and small, federal courts have allowed consumer class actions to proceed against businesses for violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”), even where the consumers did not allege actual damages resulting from the violation. FACTA requires businesses that accept… Continue Reading

Does Your Website or Mobile App Discriminate?

Posted in Compliance, Retail, Technology

Are you confident that your business complies with federal anti-discrimination laws?  If you offer goods or services to the public through the Internet, the answer may not be as simple as you think.  Increasingly, lawsuits are targeting retailers and other service providers that have an online presence, claiming that if their websites and/or mobile apps… Continue Reading

Claims about Biodegradable Plastics Breakdown Under FTC Scrutiny: Marketers Beware!

Posted in Compliance, Environmental, Green, Litigation, Retail

In the recent administrative proceeding before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against ECM Biofilms, Inc. (ECM), the FTC’s presiding chief administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled that the plastics additive manufacturer ECM violated the FTC Act by deceptively claiming, and providing others with the means to claim, that plastics treated with ECM’s additives would completely biodegrade… Continue Reading

It’s Snowing (Again!) – What Responsibility Does a Landlord Have for Snow and Ice Removal?

Posted in Compliance, Landlords, Restaurants, Retail, Risk Management

After four major snowstorms have buried much of Massachusetts in more than six feet of snow, and with other areas of the country dealing with storms of their own, landlords nationwide are wondering how responsible they are for clearing and managing snow and ice that has accumulated in their parking lots and on their sidewalks…. Continue Reading

Are Plastic Shopping Bags Being Sacked?

Posted in Compliance, Green, Retail

In earlier blog posts, we reported on the growing trend in U.S. cities to pass bans on single-use plastic shopping bags and impose fees for traditionally free bags provided in store checkouts, including the status of legislation proposed by Los Angeles, Chicago and New York to ban free shopping bags as of last November. A… Continue Reading

Customer Loyalty Programs May Face Increased FTC Scrutiny

Posted in Compliance, Retail, Retail Sales

Customer loyalty programs are discounts and coupons provided by a retailer to its shoppers as an incentive and reward for repeat purchases. Every industry seems to have its own version, whether it be airline frequent flyer miles, entertainment park privileges, or hotel points. Retail stores are among the fastest growing users of customer loyalty programs…. Continue Reading

Don’t Be Pinocchio: Avoid Liability for False Advertising

Posted in Compliance, Liability, Retail

Are you at risk of being sued for false advertising? In our media-saturated and highly competitive commercial environment, companies use a wide range of creative strategies to capture and retain consumer interest. These strategies often include making statements about other companies’ products or services. But when does such advertising go too far? The Lanham Act… Continue Reading

Medical Marijuana: The Latest Snapshot

Posted in Compliance, Retail

While the Super Bowl XLVIII matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks may have been a major letdown for football fans hoping to witness an epic battle between the NFL’s top offense and its top defense, fans certainly had fun nicknaming the big matchup featuring teams from two states that recently legalized marijuana as… Continue Reading

Rapidly Changing Tobacco Regulations Across Massachusetts

Posted in Compliance, Retail, Retail Sales

A significant number of Massachusetts cities and towns modified their tobacco regulations or bylaws during 2013 in an effort to minimize sales to minors and otherwise curb the use of tobacco products. In some towns, such as Canton, Ashland and Arlington, the legal age to purchase tobacco products was increased to 19, while in other… Continue Reading

Licensing Killed the Radio Star: When Retailers Need Music Licenses

Posted in Compliance, Intellectual Property, Retail

Your business may play the radio to enhance the customer experience. Or it may hire a band to play live music. If you were to receive a legal notice demanding payment for a license to play recorded or live music in your establishment, would you be obligated to pay? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is often… Continue Reading

Plastic Shopping Bags Going the Way of Lead Paint? Many Say YES

Posted in Compliance, Retail

Last November, we reported on the growing trend in U.S. cities to pass bans on single-use plastic shopping bags and impose fees on the sale of other traditionally free bags provided in store checkouts. In 2013, it appears that the public desire to ban plastic shopping bags is gaining momentum, with officials now calling for… Continue Reading

Trouble at the Mall: Retailers Face New Challenges with ADA Compliance

Posted in Compliance, Litigation, Retail

Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado found 248 Hollister brand stores around the country in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). These stores used a raised front porch at the store entrance that is inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. The case (Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, et al. v. Abercrombie… Continue Reading

Changes to Facebook Promotion Guidelines: “LIKE” It or Not?

Posted in Compliance, Retail

Facebook Post: “Win a $100 shopping spree to our new store! To enter, simply ‘Like’ (fan) our Page and leave a comment about our fall fashion line. We’ll pick a winner at 1pm EST tomorrow.” Until recently, a simple Facebook posting like this would have violated Facebook’s promotion guidelines and would have subjected the sponsor… Continue Reading

Doing Business with Children: Compliance with the Amended COPPA Rule

Posted in Compliance, Intellectual Property, Privacy, Retail

As of July 1, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations implementing the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (“COPPA”) were amended to address changes in the way children use and access the Internet, including through mobile devices and social networking. Originally enacted in 1998, COPPA applies to operators of websites and online services, including apps,… Continue Reading

Zoning for the All-In-One Commercial Space

Posted in Compliance, Restaurants, Retail, Zoning

Many zoning regulations were drafted decades ago in an era before all-in-one superstores. Accordingly, the form and structure of these regulations often reflects a single use-based regulatory scheme, with lists of dozens of commercial uses that are permitted in each progressive zone category. Today’s all-in-one commercial establishment typically provides many of these uses under one… Continue Reading

New Energy Efficiency Requirements in Store for Commercial Buildings in Massachusetts

Posted in Compliance, Environmental, Green, Retail

Owners, managers, and developers of commercial buildings in Massachusetts need to be alert for impending updates to the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency standards. In addition to adopting mandatory changes to the State Building Code, regulators may also update the Stretch Energy Code. Although some transition period will likely be provided, the new standards will soon take… Continue Reading

Leveling the Playing Field: Eligibility Rules for Contests Can Be a Double-Edged Sword

Posted in Compliance

Consumer voting has become a trendy element of skill contests sponsored by retail brands. Such voting enables the sponsors to drive traffic to their Facebook pages and web sites and generate consumer interest. But the rules they develop to create a level playing field can sometimes backfire. Here are some recent cases in point: Theodore… Continue Reading

The Honeymoon is Over – Investigation of Commercial Bribery in the Retail Industry

Posted in Compliance, Cross Border, Retail

Over the past decade, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has drastically ramped up its enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits the payment or offer of payment of anything of value to a foreign government official to assist a company in obtaining or retaining business. DOJ’s enforcement efforts tend to have… Continue Reading

Void Where Prohibited: Social Media Rules for Contests and Sweepstakes

Posted in Compliance

Contests and sweepstakes are popular strategies for retailers to gain publicity and increase sales. To reach their audience, savvy marketing personnel may seek to conduct or promote such events through third-party web sites and social media. They may invite contestants to upload creative photos of themselves using the retailer’s products or services. Or they may… Continue Reading