Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Legal Issues, and How to Get Ready

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on October 25, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Sumptuous family meals are now nearly eclipsed by two of the most important shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving when retailers are finally "in the black," one could argue that the name should be changed to Black Thursday as sales are creeping into Thanksgiving dinner, reports The Wall Street Journal. Cyber Monday refers to the day everyone goes back to work and goes shopping online catches up on their assignments.

As in-house counsel to a company that sells products in retail stores, or online, there are few legal issues that you should consider for this upcoming holiday shopping season.

OSHA Requirements

In recent years, Black Friday has gotten completely out of hand with the pinnacle in 2008, when a temporary worker was trampled to death at a Walmart in New York, and a man was shot to death in California. If your company owns and operates any retail establishments, you must be prepared for the worst.

In recent years, OSHA has taken to releasing a fact sheet entitled "Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers." Treat these tips as the minimum requirements, you want to protect your company from liability should any unfortunate events occur.

Ad Leaks

If your company is planning special Black Friday promotions and sales, you may want to go the extra step and help your marketing team have a plan in place to prevent leaks. Whether its non-disclosure agreements, or like Geek reports, Walmart circulating letters to websites about "confidential and proprietary information," have a plan on how you want to enforce confidential sales strategies.

Domain Names & Counterfeit Products

The Consumer Fraud Center calls Cyber Monday "one of the biggest days for online fraud," and has warned consumers about counterfeit goods being sold on legitimate websites, reports The Wall Street Journal. Not only that, just last year 132 domain names were seized on Cyber Monday related to the sale of counterfeit goods, according to Reuters. Make sure that you have a plan in place to enforce your IP.

Fraud and Identity Theft

On the flip side, you'll also want to be aware of potential consumer fraud and identity theft. It's in your company's best interest to prevent fraud because consumers will contest purchases with their credit card companies -- and your company will foot the bill for sending out products to a thief.

Tax Laws

If your company sells directly to consumers online, make sure that your company is compliance with state tax laws. Though the Marketplace Fairness Act is not yet law, the possibility of its passage should also be at the back of your mind, and you should have a plan for this should it pass the House of Representatives at some point in the future.

What legal issues does your legal department prep for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Let us know on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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