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The 2017 “Manufacturers’ Lawyer’s Shrug”

I am a really big fan of the NPR radio show, “Car Talk,” where two Boston auto mechanics took callers’ questions and tried to answer them.  Since the November 8 election, I have freely adapted one of their signature phrases – I call it the “Manufacturers’ Lawyers’ Shrug.”  Basically, when I attend any event and … Continue Reading

Court Dismisses Public Nuisance Claims Against Monsanto for Manufacture of PCBs

Last week, a federal court dismissed claims brought by three California cities against Monsanto that were aimed at forcing Monsanto to pay for polychlorinated biphenyl (“PCB”) contamination in San Francisco Bay. The cities—San Jose, Berkeley, and Oakland—each filed lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that Monsanto was liable for PCB pollution in the Bay, not because Monsanto … Continue Reading

Your Customer Just Declared Bankruptcy: Recent Decision That All Suppliers/Vendors Should Be Aware Of

This week, we thank members of Robinson+Cole’s Business Reorganizations and Bankruptcy Group (Patrick Birney, Steve Boyajian and Mike Enright) for this post: Suppliers and vendors sometimes find themselves unpleasantly surprised by the bankruptcy of a customer, leaving a trail of unpaid invoices and little hope of recovery. To make matters worse, after licking their wounds … Continue Reading

New Wage and Hour Requirements for Certain Employees of Manufacturers

In May, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) published its amended regulation regarding the so-called “White Collar” exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  As a result, manufacturers may either have to boost the wages of some employees or radically change the manner in which those employees are compensated. Under the FLSA, employees must … Continue Reading

How Passage of Trade Secrets Act Will Help Manufacturers: An Update

Last month, we posted about the United States Senate’s passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.  Breaking news:  It passed.  Thanks to members of our Labor & Employment (Ian Clarke-Fisher) and Intellectual Property Litigation groups (Jim Nault) for this guest post. On May 11, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets … Continue Reading

Employment Law Developments for Manufacturers:  Predictably Unpredictable!

Manufacturers should take note of two recent developments in the human resources world.  One expected.  The other not. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that in January I predicted the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) would make good on its goal of updating the “Persuader Rule.” By way of background, the Persuader Rule … Continue Reading

How Passage of Trade Secrets Act Will Help Manufacturers

We welcome a guest post this week from Nuala Droney and James Nault, who are members of Robinson + Cole’s Intellectual Property Litigation Practice Team. This week, the United States Senate passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, which, if passed by the House and signed into law by President Obama, would give trade … Continue Reading

EEOC Retaliation Guidance Ups the Stakes for Manufacturers

I ended my January 21 “employment law predictions” post by writing, “One thing I can count on as these ‘Years of Change’ continue, [I]  expect something unexpected.”  The EEOC made that prediction come true the same day when it published for comment a wholesale revision of its policy guidance on retaliation claims under federal civil … Continue Reading

Never too Late for Some 2016 Employment Predictions!

  While we are still saying “Happy New Year” (I checked and was told that January 21 was still “not too late” to wish good tidings for 2016), and as we get ready for the Great East Coast Blizzard of 2016, I thought it would be a good time to add my own predictions for … Continue Reading

DOJ to Increase and Strengthen Criminal Worker Safety Prosecutions

With the new year comes a new focus on increasing criminal prosecutions against employers for worker safety violations.  In the end of December, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced a plan to deter workplace safety violations through more stringent criminal prosecution.  Under the new plan, the DOJ will work … Continue Reading

Why The Recent Indictments of Nutritional Supplement Executives Matter To All Manufacturers/Distributors

Our firm has substantial experience in representing nutritional supplement manufacturers.  For that reason, the news that the Justice Department and federal agencies (such as the FTC) is engaged in a nationwide sweep of such companies is newsworthy.  This sweep has consisted of both criminal and civil/regulatory actions that will take years to unravel. Other manufacturers/distributors might … Continue Reading

Manufacturing a Troubling Future Part Two:  Recent Decision

This is the second of two posts regarding the “troubling” state of multi-employer pension plans.  My October post provided an overview of the recently published Teamsters’ Central States Pension “Rescue Plan” and discussed some of its implications.  This post will review the recent  decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Resilient Floor Covering … Continue Reading

CERCLA Update: Court Reverses Divisibility Ruling

Earlier this year, we reported on a case that seemed to breathe new life into the divisibility defense under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).  Under CERCLA, a party that causes or contributes to contamination, or even just owns contaminated property, can be held liable for the entire cleanup.  In May 2015, … Continue Reading

Can Air Emissions Lead to CERCLA Liability?

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq. (“CERCLA”) imposes fairly broad liability on potentially responsible parties (“PRPs”) to pay for the investigation and remediation of a release of a hazardous substance.  Typically, we think of a “release” as spilling or dumping on land, or discharging to water.  A … Continue Reading

The Background Check Conundrum: “Manufacturing” a Problem (Pun Intended)

I am a longtime advocate of pre-employment criminal background checks.  So I have watched with resigned acceptance as the EEOC, over 100 states and cities across the United States, and other public advocates have fought to limit the use of an applicant’s criminal history in all but limited circumstances.  New York City’s recently enacted “ban … Continue Reading

Heralding Wholesale Changes for Manufacturers, Labor Board Revamps “Joint Employer” Test

Just in time for Labor Day, the National Labor Relations Board handed organized labor a great gift and potentially disrupted the business and labor relationships of thousands of American manufacturers. On August 27, 2015, a divided Labor Board ruled 3-2 that Browning-Ferris Industries was the “joint employer” of workers supplied by a third-party.  Browning-Ferris Industries, … Continue Reading

Department Of Justice (DOJ) Prioritizes Prosecutions Of Food Companies

The post below is a follow-up to an earlier post written by my colleagues, Edward Heath and Kate Dion. Edward is my partner and is Chair of Robinson + Cole’s White-Collar Defense and Corporate Compliance Practice. Kate is a litigation associate who routinely handles government and internal investigations for manufacturing clients. In the wake of … Continue Reading

Proposed DOL Rulemaking Means Uncertainty for Manufacturers

On June 30, 2015, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments on a proposal to raise the salary threshold for the so-called “white-collar” exemptions from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to an expected $970 per week ($50,440 annually), as projected by the DOL for 2016. The DOL … Continue Reading

Even More Reason for Manufacturers to Update Their Employment Agreements

In an increasingly competitive landscape, a manufacturer’s significant employees may hold the “keys to the kingdom.” Loss of such a worker to a competitor could have a substantial impact on future business growth. Many manufacturers invest significant resources to keep key employees and, by doing so, preserve their market advantage.  Strategic use of employment agreements, … Continue Reading

Superfund Divisibility Defense Gets New Life

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, is a federal law under which contaminated sites are identified and evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA designates certain sites for cleanup and pursues potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to investigate and remediate those sites. Liability under CERCLA is joint and … Continue Reading

Avoiding a Rocky Road: Lessons For Manufacturers From Blue Bell Creameries’ Listeria Investigation

The post below was written by my colleagues, Edward Heath and Kate Dion.  Edward is my partner and is Chair of Robinson + Cole’s White-Collar Defense and Corporate Compliance Practice.  Kate is a litigation associate who routinely handles government and internal investigations for manufacturing clients. Ice cream maker Blue Bell Creameries has found itself in a sticky situation that … Continue Reading

“Light Duty” Work Assignments in Doubt: Supreme Court Adopts New Pregnancy Discrimination Standard Affecting Manufacturers

The United States Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, (U.S. Sup. Ct., March 24, 2015), in which the Court set forth a new standard for litigating pregnancy discrimination claims and arguably injected considerable uncertainty into “restricted duty” or “light duty” work programs. Factual Background Peggy Young worked for … Continue Reading

When Bad Things Happen at Good Facilities (Hazardous Air Pollutant Edition)

(Many thanks to my colleague and source of all info air related, Brian Freeman, who wrote today’s post.) Malfunctions happen, even at a well-managed facility.  When they happen, they can cause a facility to deviate from emission limits or other standards regarding (among other things) hazardous air pollutants.  Furthermore, through several court rulings and EPA … Continue Reading
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