A watchdog organization known as Transparentem has uncovered dire working conditions in the heavily polluted tanneries located outside of Dhaka in Bangladesh. According to Transparentem, men, women, and children as young as fourteen have been working in a highly toxic environment under dangerous conditions with little or no protective gear. Further, Transparentem claims to have tracked the flow of leather from these tanneries to companies that produce shoes and handbags for several leading Western brands.
Labor & Employment
Arent Fox has substantial experience advising its fashion and luxury goods clients in all aspects of labor and employment counseling and litigation. We are regularly called upon to review and audit our clients’ existing policies, procedures and practices to help reduce potential exposure. We train retail managers and rank and file employees on compliance with labor and employment laws. We advise retailers on complex human resources issues like wage and hour matters, dealing with ill and injured employees, discipline and termination decisions, investigation of internal discrimination and harassment complaints, and uniforms and clothing allowances. Our attorneys negotiate and draft executive employment and separation agreements as well as nondisclosure, nonsolicitation and noncompetition agreements. When disputes develop, we defend our clients in arbitrations, in claims before federal and state administrative agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the US Department of Labor, and in federal and state courts across the country. We also represent our fashion and luxury goods clients in lawsuits against former employees and competitors for misappropriation of trade secrets, enforcement of restrictive covenants and other claims involving unfair competition.
On December 31, 2016, at 12:01am (i.e. not January 1, 2017), the New York State Department of Labor will implement regulations increasing the salary threshold exempting employees from overtime-pay requirements for most private employers.
The California Court of Appeal has held that employers’ itemized wage payment statements do not have to include the monetary value of an employee’s accrued vacation or paid time off (PTO). The decision in Soto v. Motel 6 Operating, L.P. held that, although such amounts are “wages” under California law, an employer does not have to itemize the value of the balance due until the end of employment.
Long lines and waiting for security inspections are the new normal not only at airports and stadiums, but also at office buildings and theatres—just to name a few places. According to the plaintiff in Rodriquez v. Nike Retail Services, Inc., N.D. Cal. Case No. 5:14-cv-01508, he and other Nike retail employees also had to wait for security inspections when they left for breaks or after their shifts at Nike’s retail stores.
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.
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.
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.
Employers should be aware of several important changes to federal and New York wage and hour laws, effective December 31, 2015 and January 1, 2016. Additionally, the New York Wage and Deduction Law has been extended to November 6, 2018. Changes to federal and state laws include:
Urban Outfitters, Inc. – the parent company of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, and BHLDN – recently settled an overtime wage and hour class action brought by one of its employees who alleged that he and others similarly situated were forced to work overtime without appropriate pay and that the Company violated a number of other California labor laws. Berry v. Urban Outfitters Wholesale Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 4:13-cv-02628.
ABOUT ARENT FOX LLP
Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.