Breaking News in the Industry: September 25, 2018

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Stolen smokes: 20 years for cigarette theft

A Florida man who stole $600 worth of cigarettes from a convenience store has been sentenced to 20 years in state prison. A jury in Pensacola convicted 48-year-old Robert Spellman of burglary and grand theft in August. Authorities say Spellman took 10 cartons of cigarettes from a stock room in the store manager’s office last December. He was sentenced Friday.

The Pensacola News Journal reports that Spellman had 14 felony and 31 misdemeanor convictions prior to the cigarette theft, which qualified him as a habitual felony offender. That led to the lengthy 20-year prison sentence imposed Friday by an Escambia County judge.   [Source: KOAT7 Action News]

Employee charged with stealing $1,500

A Manchester, New Hampshire, woman is facing a felony theft charge after police say she stole more than $1,500 worth of merchandise from the Merrimack Rite Aid where she worked. Samantha Rice, 30, turned herself over to Merrimack police Wednesday after a warrant was issued for her arrest. The warrant was issued after an investigation determined Rice had taken $1,500 worth of items over the course of three months from the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Daniel Webster Highway. She was released on personal recognizance bail and is due to be arraigned in Hillsborough County Superior Court on Oct. 4.   [Source: News7 Boston]

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Delivery issues jumped 50% as Florence hit

Hurricane Florence disrupted deliveries nationwide, according to data from bulk delivery management technology provider Convey. During the week of September 10, Convey reports a 49% increase in shipments exceptions — meaning parcels and less than truckload deliveries that were unable to be properly delivered — from the previous week, paired with just a 2% drop in shipments. The total number of delivery exceptions, by Convey’s count was 317,576.    [Source: SupplyChainDIVE]

Shoplifter steals umbrellas, then is hit by car

Dayton, Ohio, police said a man stole umbrellas from Dollar General before he was hit by a car. “As he was fleeing from the workers inside the store, he tried to cross Wayne Avenue, which obviously this time of day is very busy. He darted into the roadway and was clipped,” Dayton police Lt. Matt Beavers said.

It originally was reported the vehicle struck the man in the parking lot, but Beavers said it happened in the roadway. “The vehicle did knock him off balance and he did get some road rash-type injuries to his knees and the palms of his hands,” he said. “He is a known violator of the store.” Dollar General recovered its merchandise.  [MyDaytonDailyNews]

Burger chain faces lawsuit for unlawfully collecting employee fingerprints

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Illinois against fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s accusing the company of breaking state laws in regards to the way it stores and handles employee fingerprints. The lawsuit was filed on September 11, in a Cook County court, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by ZDNet. The complaint is centered around Wendy’s practice of using biometric clocks that scan employees’ fingerprints when they arrive at work, when they leave, and when they use the Point-Of-Sale and cash register systems.

Plaintiffs, represented by former Wendy’s employees Martinique Owens and Amelia Garcia, claim that Wendy’s breaks state law –the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA)– because the company does not make employees aware of how the company handles their data. More specifically, the lawsuit claims that Wendy’s does not inform employees in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their fingerprints were being collected, stored, and used, as required by the BIPA, and nor does it obtain a written release from employees with explicit consent to obtain and handle the fingerprints in the first place. Wendy’s also doesn’t provide a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying employees’ fingerprints after they leave the company, plaintiffs said.

“While there are tremendous benefits to using biometric time clocks in the workplace, there are also serious risks. Unlike key fobs or identification cards–which can be changed or replaced if stolen or compromised–fingerprints are unique, permanent biometric identifiers associated with the employee,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint. “This exposes employees to serious and irreversible privacy risks.” The class-action also names Discovery NCR Corporation, which is the software provider that supplies Wendy’s with the biometric clocks and POS and cash register access systems used in restaurants. Plaintiffs said they believe NCR may hold fingerprint information on other Wendy’s employees. NCR wasn’t named by accident in the lawsuit. The BIPA law was enacted in 2008 after a huge privacy scandal in the state of Illinois, because of a similar vendor. In late 2007, a biometric company called Pay By Touch, which provided major retailers throughout Illinois with fingerprint scanners to facilitate consumer transactions, filed for bankruptcy.

At the time, state officials and consumers realized that fingerprints collected at stores weren’t actually stored by the retailers, but were sent to Pay By Touch. This alarmed everyone because this data was, at the time, eligible to be sold off to anyone to recoup costs during the bankruptcy procedures. This led lawmakers to come up with BIPA to prevent similar incidents. Plaintiffs are now requesting a judge a class-action classification and a jury trial. Besides equitable relief, litigation expenses, and attorneys’ fees, plaintiffs also want Wendy’s to disclose if it “sold, leased, traded, or otherwise profited from Plaintiffs’ and the Class’s biometric identifiers or biometric information,” and if Wendy’s or NCR have ever used plaintiffs’ and any of the subsequent class filers’ fingerprints to track them. Wendy’s did not respond to a request for comment. Plaintiffs’ lawyers declined to comment when reached.   [Source: ZDNet]

Employees sue seafood chain for wage theft

The crabs are angry, and so are the employees. A group of servers at Mesa-based seafood restaurant Angry Crab Shack are suing the company after the restaurant allegedly withheld tips, reducing their earnings to less than minimum wage.The four employees claim in a July complaint filed in Arizona U.S. District Court that the Cajun seafood company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. It’s the second labor lawsuit filed by employees of Angry Crab Shack in less than two years.

Last May, the company settled a nearly identical wage-theft case for a six-digit sum. But according to the new complaint, during that collective action lawsuit, the company’s managers and supervisors “actively discouraged” other employees from opting in to the suit. Angry Crab Shack wait staff earned less than minimum wage because of a $3 per hour tip credit the restaurant subtracted from their pay, the complaint said. That’s a regular practice at restaurants that employ staff earning tips. Yet Angry Crab Shack required servers and bartenders to pool their tips after each shift and then divided the money among tipped staff and non-tipped, back-of-house employees such as managers, cooks, and dishwashers, the complaint said. The result was that Angry Crab Shack wait staff and bartenders earned less than the applicable Arizona minimum wage during both regular hours and overtime.

Angry Crab Shack also required employees to contribute one dollar from their tips during each shift they worked to a collective fund entirely controlled by management, the complaint said. Employees could “’borrow’ from this collective fund on an as-needed basis,” but any employee who borrowed had to “promptly reimburse the fund.” Through the lawsuit, the servers hope to recoup unpaid wages, attorneys’ fees, and liquidated damages.

All four plaintiffs – Servando Alarcon, Gregory Garcia, Freya O’Keefe, and Mary Pineda – started work at the Angry Crab Shack restaurant in Phoenix on Indian School Road between 2014 and 2016. Two still worked there as of July. The complaint seeks a collective action certification that would include all other Angry Crab Shack servers and bartenders who lost wages as a result of the company’s alleged practices. The chain of casual restaurants serves bag-boiled shellfish along with spicy sauces. Angry Crab Shack has seven restaurants in Arizona, six corporate-owned and one franchise. They include locations in Mesa, Peoria, Goodyear, Phoenix, and Tucson.

Requests for comment to Angry Crab Shack’s corporate headquarters were not returned. The corporate headquarters in Mesa is preparing for a rapid nationwide expansion over the next five years. On Monday, Angry Crab Shack announced plans to add five new locations in Arizona by 2019 for a total of 100 locations by 2023. In a news release announcing the expansion, founder Ron Lou touted his restaurant chain as a great franchise opportunity “due to our low operating costs and high return on investment.” The lawsuit names Lou and several other Angry Crab Shack owners as defendants.    [Source: Phoenix New Times]

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