Back for its second year and with record breaking attendance, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), in partnership with the Retail Litigation Center (RLC), kicked off the second annual Retail Law Conference in Chicago today.
Open to retail and consumer product general counsel, senior legal executives, in-house attorneys and their teams, the exceptional dialogue presented at this conference is designed to help retailers navigate the current legal landscape of the retail industry.
“The Retail Law Conference is an outstanding opportunity for retailers and their legal teams to increase their legal knowledge and learn how their peers in the industry are managing the many challenges affecting retail,” said Janet Dhillon, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, J.C. Penney Company, Inc. and Chair of the Retail Litigation Center.
“We are extremely proud of this year’s program,” said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. “We’ve had record breaking attendance and heard nothing but excellent feedback from attendees on the quality of networking and content from today’s presentations. We’re looking forward to another great day tomorrow with a line-up of outstanding speakers and a forward-looking agenda.”
Today’s sessions opened with a panel discussion on California law, where general counsels from Jo-Ann Stores and Whole Foods Market discussed the state’s laws that affect the retail industry. Discussion included enforcement policies and the challenges of compliance, and explored the legal developments around such issues as employment laws, Song Beverly, Proposition 65 and supply chain.
The day continued with a panel of top corporate compliance officers discussing the challenges of today’s ever-expanding government scrutiny where failure to comply with the myriad of laws, regulations and public expectations can negatively affect a company’s reputation and brand. Companies are expanding in-house compliance efforts in response to the passage of Sarbanes Oxley and Dodd Frank, the expansion of the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the expectations of CSR accountability throughout the supply chain for all aspects of product production. Moderated by Jacey Kaps, Parnter at Rumberger Kirk and Caldwell PA, the panel included Phyllis Harris, Senior Vice President & Chief Compliance Officer from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Susan Pifer, Chief Compliance Officer from Meijer Inc.; and finally Gaither Keener, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary & Chief Compliance Officer for Lowe’s Companies Inc.
Following lunch, attendees discussed the NLRB specialty healthcare decision with conversation centering around quickie elections, the application of NLRB standards to a union-free employer’s policies and procedures, reporting obligations under the LMRDA, Labor Board initiatives, and a new government workplace notice of employee rights, all of which combine to create enormous challenges for any employer.
Finally, as we head into the 2012 elections, attendees heard from Mark Halperin co-author of Game Change on what to expect the political landscape to look like next year. Using his more than 20 years of experience covering national politics and government, Halperin explained what the latest political maneuvering means for big business, international relations, the American economy and the average citizen.
RILAis the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.