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The California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), which went into full effect on January 1, 2020, has seen robust enforcement efforts by the office of the California Department of Justice. In late January, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced an investigative sweep of businesses operating loyalty programs in California and sent notices alleging noncompliance with the CCPA to major corporations in the retail, home improvement, travel, and food services industries. In addition, Attorney General Bonta has encouraged consumers to know and express their privacy rights through an online platform that allows them to directly notify businesses of potential violations.
Continue Reading Enforcement of The California Consumer Privacy Act Via Letters Noticing Noncompliant Loyalty Programs and Online Tool for Consumers to Notify Businesses of Potential Violations

At the end of 2021, the California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling (the “Commission”) sent a letter to The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, also known as CalRecycle, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta, asking them to investigate illegal labeling of plastic bags as recyclable by retailers. The Commission is alleging that businesses in the state are falsely implying that their bags are capable of being recycled through curbside collection with the “chasing arrows” logo and words such as “recyclable” and “recycle.” The Commission believes this labeling is impeding the curbside recycling process.
Continue Reading California Recyclability Labeling Scrutiny Poised to Increase Retailers’ Liability Risk

Earlier this year, the Attorney General Alliance (AGA) conducted an important webinar highlighting the risks of organized retail crime (ORC) to retail organizations, employees, and customers. ORC presents substantial dangers in both the online and brick-and-mortar settings, necessitating cooperative efforts between businesses and government actors to combat this illicit activity. Retail clients should be aware of pandemic-driven upticks in ORC, increased safety risks to employees and customers, and proposed solutions like the INFORM Act that may impose new business obligations in the effort to prevent ORC.

An Increase in ORC

ORC refers to acts of theft by professional criminals both in-store and online. ORC is much more serious than casual shoplifting and is closely linked to dangerous crimes like human trafficking and money laundering. Participants in ORC are generally extremely well-organized and intentional. In stark contrast to the casual shoplifter who likely engages in his or her crime of choice no more than a few times per week, organized retail criminals can easily hit several stores in a single day. Moreover, because their aim is resale, rather than personal use, these criminals tend to target in-demand products. These include cosmetics, fragrances, allergy medications, razor blades, designer clothing, batteries, drills, over-the-counter drugs, and baby formula.

While ORC has existed for decades, shifts in purchaser behavior during the coronavirus pandemic appear to have dangerously increased its felt effects; retailers, for one, are taking a substantial financial hit. Scott Draher, an asset protection and safety executive for Lowe’s, noted that while maybe 25% of all Lowe’s losses in 2015 resulted from ORC, that number is now around 60%. Although the exact cause of this spike in ORC activity is unclear, it may be that pandemic-era buyers, in their efforts to avoid in-person shopping, are more willing to purchase products from questionable sources, creating increased resale opportunities for ORC participants.

The increase in demand for certain goods—even from uncertain sources—has also fueled another troubling ORC trend: An increase in violence. It appears that ORC criminals are becoming more brazen and aggressive. Many will do anything to get out the door with their stolen goods, including harming people in their way. Employees, in particular, have been regularly threatened with mace and other weapons. According to Ben Dugan, part of the ORC investigations team for CVS Health, the key driver of this increased aggression is the desire to meet escalating demand; the recent increase in online sales of the products targeted by ORC criminals, about 30%, roughly mirror the increase in theft.

ORC also creates troubling consumer safety risks apart from the risk of altercation with a fleeing criminal. Consider an organized retail criminal who steals and resells baby formula. This sensitive product may not be stored the right way prior to resale, or the thief may tamper with the contents or change expiration dates on the packaging. More generally, third-party sellers are simply not held to the same product integrity and safety standards that would otherwise apply. These risks are particularly high in the context of online sales, where consumers have less information about the product and the seller—and thus less opportunity to obtain legal redress.
Continue Reading AG Alliance Highlights New Trends in Organized Retail Crime

Recently, New York enacted a new law against gendered pricing that was included as a key component of the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget and Governor Cuomo’s 2020 Women’s Agenda. In a press release announcing the law, Governor Cuomo states, “By abolishing the pink tax, women and girls will no longer be subject to harmful

On August 14, 2020, California Attorney General Becerra announced that the Office of Administrative Law approved final regulations under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The approved regulations, which became effective immediately, guide businesses and consumers on the CCPA.  The final regulations can be found here.

Even before final approval of the regulations, the California Attorney General’s Office announced that it had already begun enforcing the CCPA in California. By July 10, 2020, the Office had issued warning notices to online businesses for failure to comply with the CCPA. The businesses receiving these notices will have 30 days to comply with the CCPA, or they risk a lawsuit being filed against them by the Attorney General’s Office. It is expected that in the future the AG will no longer issue warning letters and proceed with enforcement.

Continue Reading California Attorney General Begins Enforcement of CCPA Even Ahead of Regulations’ Approval

Now that some businesses are attempting to re-open and must sanitize their locations for employees and the public, Attorneys General will vigilantly monitor for unsupported claims that products can cure or prevent the transmission of COVID-19. They will also watch for claims that a location using these products will be safe for the public.

Many states have laws forbidding price gouging during an emergency. These laws, which vary significantly by state, seek to avoid predatory pricing behavior that takes advantage of a disaster situation like a hurricane or pandemic.

The economics behind price gouging involves a surge in demand resulting in a temporary monopoly power for the party who