IS IT OKAY TO HATE MY LAWYER SERIES CONTINUES

Consumer Protection

“WHY IS EVERYBODY ALWAYS PICKING ON ME?”

“BE VIGILANT AND CAREFUL OUT THERE”

WHO IS TRULY PROTECTED FROM “CONSUMER PROTECTION?”

As we begin this new year, business owners and managers should continue their vigilance. 

The legal community continues to see unreachable frauds, embezzlements and other business devastations.  There are numerous laws that can seem to exploit us whether they come from “wanna be” customers/consumer and/or ill-informed prosecutorial and administrative government types.

LET US review just a few themes.

1.         THEFT OF TRADE SECRETS

            Many states have their own statutes (okay, laws) designed to protect one’s trade secrets.  Of broader concern is the extension of the federal 1996 Economic Espionage Act with the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act.  For our current purposes, we need to realize how the statutory scheme can involve criminal action and penalties against you in addition to the potential for a private right of action; meaning somebody sues you.

            During the current presidential administration, we have seen an increase in enforcement efforts using these two broad areas of “law.”

            Who and how these laws are enforced is extremely broad.  Mere examples include theft of DRAM trade secrets, employees moving to a competitor with secrets in hand, engineers that were “laid off” from previous employers, turbine technology, medical technology and information.  The list could be exhaustive in small and large industries. 

2.         SOME OTHER STATE’S CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT

            States have their consumer protection laws that, in theory, are designed to protect their own citizens and companies.  So... do we care about some other state’s consumer protection laws?   You may need to so care.

            In your business, you likely obtain and therefore maintain personal information about your prospects, customers and perhaps maintain such as part of your services for your own customers.  If such prospects, customer and entities “reside” in a pro-consumer state (California should come to mind), you may be subject to that state’s enforcement and regulatory tentacles. Ghastly, the out-of-state law could require you to implement and practice specified procedures and policies regarding the personal information.

            OKAY HATED LAWYER, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

As always, if you collect or have access to personal information from your own prospects and/or customers of perform such collection for a third party, you want to consult your hated lawyer who can review the other state laws and consult with you on how to comply with the other state laws.  Sigh, I know.

3.         CAN THERE POSSIBLY BE A CORRELATION BETWEEN THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (“ADA”) AND MY LITTLE OLD WEBSITE?

            Short answer: yes

            Longer answer:

“Website accessibility litigation” have seen a significant increase in recent years.  The relied upon statute is often the ADA.  As your business likely uses “digital platforms” to provide customer information, there may be risk from civil rights claims couched under the ADA.

A current example includes a national pizza chain accused of not providing adequate access to its website by persons with disabilities such as hearing or visually impairment.

You may be able to easily surmise how intrusive into your little (or large) business compliance may become.

OKAY HATED LAWYER, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This is still a relatively new area of law with the higher federal courts reviewing this topic. Additionally, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines people are looking into this significant problem.

You will want to stay in contact with your web provider servicer, your marketing company and yes, your HATED LAWYER, to see what you may be able to perform to assure compliance and resistance to such claims.

WE MUST FINISH THE LAST THREE TOPICS: 1) THEFT OF TRADE SECRETS; 2) SOME OTHER STATE’S CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT; AND 3) CAN THERE POSSIBLY BE A CORRELATION BETWEEN THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (“ADA”) AND MY LITTLE OLD WEBSITE?

WITH THIS ADDITIONAL CAVEAT:

            You will want to re-read previous posts regarding how deficient and unfair THE laws or lack thereof have become in WHERE one may have to defend such attacks from aggressive litigants and big brother.

            Yes, with all the legal developments that your business faces, it can be a good idea to stay in touch with YOUR HATED LAWYER.