No Lines, No Problem: Cashier-less Stores vs. Traditional Retail

Amazon opened another Go store in San Francisco, its third city after opening locations in Chicago and Seattle. Scan your Amazon account on the Amazon Go app to enter, pick what you want off the shelves and walk out. Cameras and sensors track customers throughout the store and other technology monitors when you take items off shelves (or put them back). Your digital receipt will charge you for items that you have taken off the shelves. No cashiers, no lines, no problem.

With three stores in Seattle, two in Chicago with another two opening soon, one in San Francisco and another opening months from now, Amazon looks primed (pun intended) to start expanding its brick-and-mortar operation. Another store is planned for New York City as well.

The goal is convenience and speed and it looks like this cashier-less store may have a leg up on traditional retail locations. Customers no longer have to wait in lines and waste their lunch hour trying to purchase quick on-the-go food. This model may be convenient for consumers, it is also clearly benefits the retailer. While the up-front costs would likely be costly, this technology could help cut costs long-term by eliminating traditional overhead costs including cashiers, credit card processing and the like. This technology also helps retailers understand their consumers better to identify inventory. While it is unlikely that these automated stores will take over the retail industry across the country, it certainly could be the new normal in certain urban areas where "life by app" is the norm.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Support Animals in the Workplace

California employers are familiar with service dogs as a reasonable accommodation for employees and applicants with disabilities. But, what about “support” animals?  In 2013, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) required California employers to allow “assistive animals” in the workplace as a reasonable accommodation. Assistive animals include service dogs, but also support animals that provide “emotional or other support to a person with a disability, including but not limited to, traumatic brain injuries or mental disabilities, such as major depression.” 

Read More

Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

California’s Compassionate Use Act (CUA) of 1996 decriminalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, it did not legalize marijuana. It only shields medical users and caregivers from criminal liability. Recently, Governor Brown signed into law three bills (Assembly Bill 266, Assembly Bill 243, and Senate Bill 643) that comprise the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). While the MMRSA deals with various medical marijuana regulations, it does nothing to impede an employer’s right to maintain a drug free workplace.

Read More

A CLOSE CALL: How Uber is Changing the 1099

The recent upswing in app based driving services like Uber have blurred the line between employees and independent contractors.   

At first glance, it would seem that Uber drivers are clearly independent contractors.  Drivers enjoy the flexibility of when and where they accept assignments, while Uber is able to minimize business costs since the usual benefits afforded employees are absent (overtime pay, minimum wage, meal breaks, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, etc.).  However, recent holdings have altered any clear distinction between the two classifications.  The result is a multitude of so called independent contractors claiming to be employees entitled to benefits that traditional employees are guaranteed.

Read More