Blog : CERG

Minami Tamaki Investigating False Advertising in Sustainable Seafood Industry

Minami Tamaki Investigating False Advertising in Sustainable Seafood Industry

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating claims that seafood distributors are profiting off of consumers by falsely advertising their products as locally caught and sustainable.

On June 13, the Associated Press (AP) reported that distributor Sea to Table is mislabeling what it markets as “traceable, sustainable, wild-caught American seafood.”

Sea to Table has been praised as “revolutionary” for its “guilt-free” seafood options, and sells seafood to celebrity chefs, fine dining restaurants, and fast-casual chains around the country. Sea to Table claims that its products are directly traceable to a U.S. dock – and sometimes to the exact boat that brought the seafood in.

However, the AP investigation found numerous examples of Sea to Table selling seafood that did not come from its advertised locations. The AP also found Sea to Table offering species that were illegal to catch, out of season, or farmed.

Further, reporters traced the company’s supply chain to migrant fishermen in foreign countries who described labor abuses, including individuals who received little as $1.50 a day for 22-hour shifts.

The global seafood industry has come under scrutiny in recent years for exploiting workers who toil on international waters under abhorrent working conditions.  While Sea to Table markets itself as an alternative to purchasing seafood that is the product of abusive foreign labor conditions, the AP investigation revealed that some of Sea to Table’s suppliers are engaged in this same worker exploitation.

Conscientious consumers are increasingly paying a premium for local, sustainable food.  These consumers make buying decisions seeking to avoid indirectly supporting human rights violations in the global supply chain.  Companies that prey on consumers’ good intentions for their own profit may be in violation of federal law and subject to criminal charges.  The Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are charged with enforcing laws outlawing mislabeling of seafood.

If you have purchased from Sea to Table or wish to obtain more information about seafood marketed as local and sustainable, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Minami Tamaki Investigating ‘Massive’ Data Breach at Zippy’s Restaurants 

Minami Tamaki Investigating ‘Massive’ Data Breach at Zippy’s Restaurants 

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating reports that the popular Hawai‘i Zippy’s Restaurants chain suffered a data breach that has compromised customer privacy.  Zippy’s announced on April 27, 2018, that the data breach affected all Zippy’s locations, as well as other affiliated restaurants.  Local reports have described the data breach as “massive.”

Zippy’s stated that the information compromised in the data breach involved credit cards and debit cards used between November 23, 2017, and March 29, 2018.  In a statement posted on its website, Zippy’s stated that it learned of the data breach on March 9, 2018, and that information impacted may include the cardholders’ names, card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes.  The Hawai‘i Office of Consumer Protection has announced that it has opened an investigation into the data breach.

Zippy’s is among the most popular restaurant chains in Hawai‘i, and has been a dining institution for both locals and tourists for decades.  Consumers in California and throughout the United States who visited Hawai‘i may be impacted by this data breach, including those who visited the islands over the holidays in late 2017.

If you dined at Zippy’s Restaurants, Napoleon’s Bakery, Kahala Sushi, or Pearl City Sushi between November 23, 2017, and March 29, 2018, and wish to discuss this matter, you may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.  We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.

Minami Tamaki Files Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Apple Unlawfully Slowed Down Older iPhones

Minami Tamaki Files Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Apple Unlawfully Slowed Down Older iPhones

The consumer protection attorneys at Minami Tamaki have filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Apple Inc. harmed its customers by releasing software updates that slowed down millions of older iPhone models and reduced their performance.

In December 2017, Apple released a public statement admitting that it released iOS updates that slowed down older iPhone models. According to reports, these slowdowns occur when an iPhone battery reaches an unspecified point of low health, and can be fixed if a user replaces the iPhone battery. Apple publicly apologized for not clearly communicating that its iOS updates throttled the speed of older iPhones.

Minami Tamaki’s lawsuit alleges that Apple slowed down iPhone 6, 6s, SE, and 7 models in order to force consumers to upgrade to newer – and more expensive – iPhone models. On April 25, 2018, the case was consolidated with claims filed by consumers making similar allegations in the Northern District of California before Judge Edward J. Davila. The consolidated case is In Re: Apple Inc. Device Performance Litigation (MDL No. 2827).

If you have experienced slowdowns with your iPhone and would like to discuss this matter, you may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form. We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.

Did Cambridge Analytica Steal Your Facebook Data? Here’s How You Can Find Out.

Did Cambridge Analytica Steal Your Facebook Data? Here’s How You Can Find Out.

Minami Tamaki LLP announced earlier this month that it was investigating allegations that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired private information from tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.

In response to public outcry regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook posted information on users’ news feeds notifying users of whether their personal data was accessed.

Facebook users can also check whether their personal data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica by visiting this Facebook page.  

Users who visit this support page while logged in to Facebook will receive a message regarding whether their personal information was shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica continue to face scrutiny in the wake of this data exposure.  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to Capitol Hill to testify in front of Congress regarding Cambridge Analytica, privacy practices, and government regulation.

If your personal data was accessed by Cambridge Analytica and you wish to discuss your legal options, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Ninth Circuit Rules That Prior Salaries Cannot Justify Gender Pay Gaps

Ninth Circuit Rules That Prior Salaries Cannot Justify Gender Pay Gaps

Today is Equal Pay Day, and it follows yesterday’s decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Rizo v. Yovino, which ruled that employers cannot rely on employees’ past salaries to justify paying women less than men.  

The employee in Rizo was a female math consultant for the Fresno County Office of Education who was paid less than new male hires with less education and experience.  The County’s reasoning was that her pay was based on her prior salary.

Under the federal Equal Pay Act, employers generally cannot pay men and women differently for performing the same work, with certain exceptions.  Previously, the Court’s decisions had held that an employee’s past salary was a “factor other than sex” that employers could use to justify pay gaps between male and female employees.   

The Court’s ruling in Rizo this week overturned those decisions, holding instead that gender wage gaps cannot be justified by an employee’s prior salary alone, or even in combination with other factors.  The majority opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt before his death last month, recognized that the gender wage gap had existed for decades and continues to exist today, with the gap costing women in the U.S. over $840 billion a year.

“If money talks, the message to women costs more than ‘just’ billions: women are told they are not worth as much as men,” wrote Judge Reinhardt. “Allowing prior salary to justify a wage differential perpetuates this message, entrenching in salary systems an obvious means of discrimination.”  Thus, allowing employers to consider prior salaries would be inconsistent with the Equal Pay Act.

At the state level, California’s Equal Pay Act had already prohibited employers from justifying pay differences based on sex, race, or ethnicity solely on the grounds of prior salary.   

Minami Tamaki LLP works to ensure that the rights of all workers are protected and that workers are treated fairly.  Both federal and California law mandate equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. If you believe you have experienced unequal pay or gender discrimination, we welcome the opportunity to discuss your workplace issues with you.  You may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Facebook for Alleged Privacy Violations

Minami Tamaki Investigating Facebook for Alleged Privacy Violations

News outlets have recently reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm, improperly acquired private information from approximately 50 million Facebook users’ profiles without users’ knowledge or consent.

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating how Facebook users’ private information was used by Cambridge Analytica, and whether Facebook failed to take reasonable measures to secure users’ private information.

The New York Times and The Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica acquired this data by partnering with researcher Aleksandr Kogan to create a Facebook application called “Thisisyourdigitallife.” The app administered a “personality” test, and paid U.S. voters who installed the app to answer a series of questions about themselves. Approximately 270,000 individuals installed the app.

Kogan was able to collect data from approximately 50 million Facebook “friends” of these 270,000 individuals, even though these other users had not agreed to connect to the app. Kogan then provided the private information from these users to Cambridge Analytica. The New York Times has reported that Cambridge Analytica used the data to construct psychological profiles of the users and determine messaging to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook knew of Kogan and Cambridge Analytica harvesting information from millions of users as far back as 2015. However, Facebook did not inform users at the time that their information had been accessed in this manner. Facebook has also stated that Kogan gained access to user’s private information “through the proper channels that governed all developers on Facebook at that time.” Facebook noted that Kogan’s sharing of this data with Cambridge Analytica, an unauthorized third party, was prohibited at the time.

Government authorities, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office, and a coalition of state Attorneys General, have reportedly launched investigations into Facebook’s privacy practices.

Minami Tamaki attorneys have experience representing individuals who have been harmed by privacy breaches. If you believe your private information was gathered by Cambridge Analytica without your knowledge or consent, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Lisa Mak Honored with AABA’s Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy

Lisa Mak Honored with AABA’s Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) celebrated its 42nd annual gala on March 22 at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco with more than 800 attorneys, judges, elected officials, and other distinguished guests.

Founded in 1976, AABA is the largest local Asian American bar association in the country, and one of the largest minority bar associations in California. Dale Minami, Partner in our Personal Injury Group, was a co-founder of AABA. Sean Tamura-Sato, a Partner in our Consumer and Employee Rights Group, and Lisa P. Mak, an Associate in the same group, serve on AABA’s board of directors.

Lisa was also honored with this year’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy for her advocacy on behalf of employees, including a $3.5 million verdict in 2016 on behalf of four female Sacramento Sheriff’s Department officers, and her commitment to serving the community.

Joe Morozumi was one of the first Asian American trial lawyers in the Bay Area and a role model of zealous advocacy for the poor and the powerless. In 1997, Dale Minami, Mike Lee, and AABA established the Morozumi Award to recognize Asian American attorneys who exemplify his spirit of uncompromising legal advocacy in matters of conscience.

“I am honored to be a part of and a product of this community that supports the advancement of minorities in the legal profession,” Lisa said in her acceptance remarks. “A community where courageous lawyers like Joe … paved the way for advocacy on behalf of those who need support, protection, and a voice.”

The late San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, the city’s first Asian American mayor, posthumously received the AABA Trailblazer Award, which his wife Anita Lee accepted on his behalf. The gala included a moving tribute to Mayor Lee from Donald K. Tamaki, Partner in our Business & Nonprofit Counseling Group; U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen; and Esther Leong, Administrative Director of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.

From left to right: Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Donald K. Tamaki, U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen, Esther Leong of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and AABA President David Tsai pay tribute to the late Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco.

“Ed devoted twelve formative years at the Asian Law Caucus working for almost nothing, representing Chinatown tenants and sweatshop workers, and organizing them to demand their rights,” said Don. “This defining experience shaped his values, served as his moral compass, and informed his decisions as Mayor.”

John So, a 3L student at UC Hastings College of the Law, received this year’s Garrick S. Lew Fellowship through the AABA Law Foundation. The Fellowship is funded through a grant from the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation’s Garrick S. Lew Legacy Fund, and awards $10,000 to a 3L law student committed to a criminal defense practice after graduation. The MTYKL Foundation created this Legacy Fund in conjunction with the Lew family to continue Garrick’s legacy of advocating for our Asian American communities. Garrick, who passed away in 2016, was a former Partner in our firm.

Minami Tamaki is proud to continue supporting AABA and its efforts to protect civil rights, engage our community, and increase diversity in the legal profession.

From left to right: Minami Tamaki’s Dale Minami, Lisa Mak, California State Treasurer and candidate for governor John Chiang, and UC Hastings Prof. Eumi Lee (former AABA President).
Minami Tamaki Investigating Malfunction at San Francisco Fertility Clinic

Minami Tamaki Investigating Malfunction at San Francisco Fertility Clinic

The San Francisco law firm of Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating local fertility clinic Pacific Fertility Center after it disclosed on March 11, 2018, that it suffered a malfunction in a steel tank where hundreds of patient’s eggs and embryos were stored. The liquid nitrogen failure, which reportedly occurred on March 4, 2018, could endanger the tissue and patients’ chances of having children.

The malfunction was discovered by the clinic’s laboratory director, who noticed that the level of liquid nitrogen in one tank was too low. A lack of liquid nitrogen causes temperatures in tanks to rise, which can cause damage to tissue housed in vials called cryolocks. The clinic reported the incident to the College of American Pathologists, which oversees California’s tissue banks.

The clinic declined to specify the number of eggs and embryos affected, but disclosed several thousand were in the tank. According to reports, the eggs and embryos in the affected tank had been in storage for as long as 10 years. According to Pacific Fertility Center, the extent to which the malfunction damaged eggs and embryos remains unclear.

News of this incident comes on the heels of a similar malfunction the same weekend at University Hospital Fertility Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

These incidents come as a growing number of U.S. women are choosing to freeze their eggs as assisted reproductive technology has advanced. According to Pacific Fertility’s website, egg-freezing starts at $8,345 for the first cycle and $6,995 for subsequent rounds. Thousands of individuals are planning their families based on this technology, and, for some families, the treatment is their only chance at conceiving a child.

Minami Tamaki attorneys have experience advising individuals regarding laboratory failure at reproductive clinics. If you believe your frozen eggs or embryos were affected by the Pacific Fertility Center malfunction, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Government Agencies Investigating Apple Over iPhone Performance Slowdowns

Government Agencies Investigating Apple Over iPhone Performance Slowdowns

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Apple Inc. about software updates that slowed down older iPhone models. This investigation was made public on January 30, 2018 by a Bloomberg news report.

In December 2017, Apple admitted that iOS updates slowed down the performance of older iPhone models. The slowdowns occur when an iPhone battery reaches an unspecified point of low health, and can be fixed if a user replaces the iPhone battery. Apple publicly apologized for not clearly communicating that these iOS updates throttled the speed of older iPhones. Apple announced that it plans to release a further software update in 2018 that allows users to turn off throttling, but may leave older iPhones more prone to random rebooting.

Some consumers allege that Apple slowed down iPhones in order to force them to upgrade to newer – and more expensive – iPhone models. Industry experts estimate that these iOS updates have caused slowdowns in millions of iPhone 6, 6s, SE and 7 models.

If you have experienced slowdowns in your iPhone and would like to discuss this matter, you may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form. We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.