Munger, Tolles & Olson has represented a range of retail clients in labor and employment matters, consumer class actions, compliance issues and general commercial litigation. Firm clients include supermarket chains, discount stores, specialty retailers and clothing and accessories retailers.

The legal issues central to these matters include employment discrimination (both in California and nationwide), false advertising claims, billion-dollar plus deals and bet-the-company commercial disputes. Munger Tolles also has a significant track record with compliance cases, particularly in regard to employment and supply-chain issues which often involve alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations.

In 2011, we were involved with precedent-setting case involving 99¢ Only Stores, where the firm secured the dismissal of a representative action seeking penalties for failure to provide seats to retail cashiers. This action was one of dozens of suits pending in California courts against almost all major retailers whereby the plaintiffs rely on a decades-old regulation requiring seating for employees to argue for massive penalties because retail cashiers do not have seats. Munger Tolles continues to play an important role in this issue, having authored the amicus brief for the California and U.S. Chambers of Commerce in the 2016 California Supreme Court case related to the state’s suitable seating requirements. We continue to represent 99¢ Only Stores in ongoing litigation alleging failure to provide suitable seating to retail cashiers.

Munger Tolles’ experience representing companies in the retail industry include:

  • 1-800 Contacts in various Lanham Act and unfair competition cases, including successful appeals before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Utah Supreme Court.
  • 99¢ Only Stores in:
    • obtaining dismissals of numerous claims asserting false advertising related to the company’s fractional pricing policy.
    • achieving the dismissal or successful resolution of various labor and employment class actions.
    • its $1.6 billion sale to Ares Management LLC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Gold/Schiffer family. Reuters said the deal was a “fresh example of how to handle a management buyout” and the deal was recognized by The Deal Magazine as an “M&A Deal of the Year.”
  • Brighton Collectibles, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers and retailers of women’s leather goods and accessories, and its founder, Jerry Kohl, against a $17.5 million breach of contract action brought by the operator of 23 of Brighton’s retail stores. 
  • Costco Wholesale in a shareholders’ derivative lawsuit, arising from the alleged backdating of stock options.
  • Mattel in defeating a consolidated state and federal court derivative action against Mattel and various directors and officers stemming from the 2007 recall of toys manufactured in China due to instances of excessive lead content and magnet detachment problems.
  • The Yucaipa Cos. in a debt for equity swap, which resulted in Yucaipa owning a 20% stake in Barneys New York.

Malcolm A. Heinicke (415) 512-4029