REAL ESTATE

CB Richard Ellis names retail exec

BY CSA STAFF

Newport Beach, Calif. — CB Richard Ellis announced Monday that Scott Riddles has joined the company’s Western Division Retail team as a senior VP. Riddles will be joined by his current team – Derek Fitch, Rob Crumly and Ryan Riddles – and all will be based in the firm’s Newport Beach office.

Riddles comes to CBRE from SRS Real Estate Partners, formerly Staubach Retail, where he was a founding partner.

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Target alum tries hand at improving JCP fortunes

BY CSA STAFF

It was the biggest story in the retail world last week when JCPenney announced it had hired Ron Johnson as its new CEO with the incoming executive vowing to transform the way America shops by reinventing the department store. Such statements normally elicit a yawn because they are so common, but Johnson is the former SVP retail at Apple and spent the past 11 years overseeing the development and growth of the company’s wildly successful and widely heralded retail operation.

Largely overlooked in the hysteria over his hiring – shares of JCP surged $4.93 the day the news was announced – was the fact that Johnson spent 15 years at Target prior to joining Apple, last serving as a VP merchandising. According to JCPenney, Johnson held a variety of merchandising positions including men’s and women’s apparel and accessories, children’s and home. He is most noted for launching and leading the design initiative at Target, which began with the Michael Graves collection for home and included several other key brands, according to JC.Penney, a company that has also pursued a designer exclusive approach to merchandising.

It is the experienced Johnson gained at Target that will be most valuable at JCPenney since his experience at Apple was colored by some developments that were enough to make a mediocre operator look like a hero. No disrespect intended to Johnson’s capabilities or the role he played in developing the unique Apple store atmosphere and customer service culture, but without the phenomenal products Apple brought to market during his tenure the customer service and culture in stores would have mattered about as much as they did at Circuit City.

Johnson gets his chance to reinvent JCPenney on Nov. 1 when he takes over for outgoing CEO Mike Ulman, who will fully retire early next year when Johnson also becomes chairman. Johnson is sure to bring with him fresh ideas about how to accelerate growth at JCPenney’s 1,106 stores and some of those initiatives are sure to have an impact on Target as there is considerable overlap in the company’s product offerings especially in apparel and home and increasingly beauty, as JCPenney now operates roughly 250 Sephora beauty departments in its stores.

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Supreme Court Ruling on Wal-Mart: A Win for Employers

BY CSA STAFF

The following excerpts are from the Workplace Class Action blog of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, one of the nation’s leading national employment and labor law firms. (To read the full posting, go to workplaceclassaction.com)

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited and much anticipated opinion in Dukes, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The Supreme Court reversed, and ruled in favor of Wal-Mart.

The decision is likely to spark a transformation of Rule 23 class certification law, and the workplace class action litigation is apt to change dramatically in the future. In short, the Supreme Court’s opinion re-positions the goal posts on the playing fields of how workplace class actions are structured, defended, and litigated.

In a 5 to 4 ruling, the SCOTUS held that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate commonality under Rule 23(a)(2), and unanimously held that the back pay claims could not be properly certified under Rule 23(b)(2).

The impact of the ruling will be significant to employers for their approach to employment discrimination litigation. As such, Dukes determines how much, for purposes of Rule 23(a), class members must have in common for a class action to be certified and the extent to which claims for money damages can ever be certified under Rule 23(b)(2).

The SCOTUS ruling in Dukes addresses several cutting-edge class action issues. These issues are of substantial importance to employment discrimination class-action litigation and to employers generally because it establishes a roadmap for plaintiffs’ lawyers and defense counsel alike in approaching class certification briefing and hearings.

The new roadmap is decidedly more favorable to employers than before. Employers should be upbeat in terms of the Supreme Court’s articulation of the required showings plaintiffs must make in the future to certify an employment discrimination class action. In short, the bar has been raised.

The impact of the Dukes case also impacts all employers’ human resources administration, policies, and procedures. As a result of the decision, employers should review HR practices related to pay and promotion decisions — subjective or not — to determine whether they are adversely impacting any classification of employee. Employers should design any subjective decision-making process and procedure carefully, by linking the process and procedure directly to each position and criteria for performance, ensuring that managers closest to performance are trained to make effective decisions, and consider an appeal process for employees considered but not selected for promotion or training opportunities. Employers should review their programs aimed at increasing diversity and preventing discrimination to ensure that they are being implemented effectively, and should not avoid implementing these programs. Further, employers should continue providing training and communications regarding company policies, including those relating to equal employment opportunities, non-discrimination, and career opportunities.

Upcoming Seyfarth Webinars On Dukes:
On Tueday, June 21, 2011, at 12 ET/11 CT/9 PT, Seyfarth Shaw LLP is hosting a short, interactive Webinar on the Dukes ruling, and initial thoughts regarding the impact of the ruling on employers, and what it means for the future of workplace litigation.

Click here to register.

Gerald L. Maatman, Jr. is a partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, where he is resident in the firm’s Chicago and New York offices. Laura J. Maechtlen is a partner in the San Francisco office of the firm, and serves on the Firm Diversity Action Team’s Executive Committee.

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