Law and Daily Life: July 2010 Archives
Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

July 2010 Archives

Federal Judge Blocks Part of AZ Immigration Law

Opponents of the SB1070, the new Arizona immigration law, are claiming a partial victory after a federal judge issued an injuction blocking the state from allowing police to question people about their immigration status.

Under SB1070, signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April, police were expected to "make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested" if the if the arresting officer has a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant. Reasonable suspicion means that the reasonable person or officer could reasonably believe that a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity (such as being in the country illegally) based on specific and articulable facts and inferences. Reasonable suspicion cannot be a mere hunch.

Medical Marijuana to be OK at 14 VA Clinics

For years patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals have been forced to deal with the ambiguity of medical marijuana laws in relation to their treatment. But under a new directive issued by the Veterans Affairs Department, patients treated at VA hospitals and clinics will be allowed to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, currently 14 states. For years Veterans have been concerned that if they use medical marijuana, they may be denied other pain medication.

Under the new guidance, VA doctors are not specifically authorized to prescribe medical marijuana, as it remains illegal under federal law. However, under the directive, VA clinics will not interfere with veterans who are already being prescribed medical marijuana from other clinics.

Dr. Robert Jesse, who works in the veterans department as principal deputy under secretary for health, said that "When states start legalizing marijuana we are put in a bit of a unique position because as a federal agency, we are beholden to federal law." The new directive is designed to reconcile this dilemma

Bankruptcy Fallout: The Teresa Giudice Auction

This time around the recession didn't spare anyone. Not the bankers on Wall Street, not the Joes on Main Street, and not the Bravo reality TV stars Teresa Giudice and husband, not so regular Joe. The couple will be auctioning off their personal property at an August 22 at 12 p.m. (EST) auction at their Towaco, New Jersey, home. The $1.8 million dollar home (contrary to Teresa statements on her reality show The Real Housewives of New Jersey) is in foreclosure. Thus begins the real Teresa Giudice bankruptcy.

Not only do the Giudices have to contend with the sale of their property, but they have to refute claims by the bankruptcy trustee overseeing their case that they are undervaluing their property and hiding assets. CNN reports that the court papers filed by trustee John Sywilok says that the couple is claiming assets exempt from the bankruptcy filing at a low value including a pool table ($1000) and even their wedding bands ($400).

Child Seat Laws: What You Need to Know

Most adults are quite used to buckling up when they get into a car. But teaching our kids to do the same is not only important, it is the law. Each state has its own child seat laws that require various safety restraint systems for children depending often on age and weight. Here are a few examples of some of the most common.

All state car seat laws require a child restraint system, most up to the age of seven, a few up to the age of eight. While many states base the restraint on age and weight, the restraint requirement in Kentucky is based on height: required for anyone under 40" tall. Once a child is over the age, height and/or weight requirement, then regular seatbelt laws apply.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 20

Happy twentieth birthday, Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA was originally signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. The landmark legislation was designed to help Americans who could not receive equal access to facilities due to disabilities. While much progress has been made under the law, it also remains an ongoing source of complaint and controversy.

The ADA prohibits discrimination due to disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

The creator of the legislation, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, introduced a resolution last week applauding the progress under the law: "Twenty years ago, we heard testimony from Americans who had to crawl on their hands and knees to go up a flight of stairs; who couldn't ride on a bus because there wasn't a lift; who couldn't even cross the street in their wheelchairs because there were no curb cuts ... The ADA has broken down barriers, created opportunities and transformed lives."

The Pei Wei 12: Fired for Protesting SB 1070?

Twelve employees of the Pei Wei Asian Diner say they were fired for attending a rally protesting Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070. The employees missed shifts to attend the rally and that is the reason they were dismissed, say representatives for the restaurant. However, the employees say others who missed shifts were punished, not fired. Now, the protests have shift to the restaurant itself.

Some of the twelve out of the thirty employees of the Chandler, Arizona Pei Wei restaurant asked for the day off, but were denied, reports MyFOXPhoenix. One of the employees who was dismissed for missing work to attend the rally against SB 1070 was Yvonne Herrera. Herrera says she has worked as a cook at the Pei Wei restaurant for ten years without taking a single sick day.

What a Nuisance: Law Firm Sues Burger Joint

Who doesn't love the smoky scent of hamburgers sizzling on the grill? Besides vegetarians and vegans, that is. The answer, at least in this case, is lawyers. Or more specifically, the Washington D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson which is asking for an injunction against their neighbor, the hamburger joint Rouge States, to stop them from fumigating their office with the enticing scent of burgers. And the smoke that comes with it.

According to the original complaint filed in March, the law firm claimed the smoke and fumes from the restaurant were constantly pouring into the air system of the office building that houses Steptoe. All according to the Blog of Legal Times (BLT for short), the firm's employees were getting nauseous, had headaches, watery eyes and were drowsy and sometimes distracted. None of these conditions are good for office moral, or performance, for that matter. Being lawyers, they sued.

Transgendered Widow Sued over Death Benefits

One transgendered Texas woman's birth gender has come back to affect her life. Nikki Araguz became a woman and married firefighter Thomas Araguz. On July 4, he was killed in the line of duty. Now, his mother is challenging his widow's claim to his benefits on the basis that because Nikki was born a man, their marriage is invalid. Texas law prohibits same sex marriage.

Attorneys for Simona Longoria say that her son wanted to end his marriage when he found out about his wife's original gender, according to the Associated Press. In her suit, Longoria seeks to be appointed administrator of her son's estate and asks that her son's marriage to Nikki Araguz be voided because the couple were members of the same sex. Papers filed with the complaint claim Nikki Araguz was born Justin Graham Purdue and changed her name to Nikki Paige Purdue in February, 1996.

Investigation: No Crime In Attorney Firings

The special prosecutor assigned to investigate possible criminal charges in connection with the Bush Administration firings of nine U.S. attorneys said today there was not enough evidence to bring charges. Nora Dannehy, an assistant prosecutor from Connecticut, said Wednesday, July 21 that the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias may have been a violation of DOJ principles, but it was not a crime.

Why in this case would firing an employee be a crime? Most laws governing illegal dismissal for grounds such as discrimination are civil laws. The investigation, according to the New York Times, looked into whether the firings of the U.S. attorneys where done for political reasons which is unethical, or whether there was an attempt to influence an investigation that could harm Democrats, which would be illegal. David Iglesias was fired from his position in New Mexico after the then-Senator from the state inquired into his failure to bring about charges involving voter fraud accusations against Democrats before the 2006 elections.

Unemployment Extension Approved by Congress

The check is (almost) in the mail.

The U.S. Congress has approved an extension of jobless benefits. The six-month extension of emergency benefits passed the House 272-152. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday. President Obama quickly signed it into law on Thursday.

Emergency jobless benefits are part of a federal program that provides extended unemployment insurance benefits to certain individuals during heavy periods of unemployment as established by the Federal Government.

Those eligible under the program are also eligible for retroactive payments for the gap in coverage after the previous extension expired. The extension of emergency benefits will run through November. If the jobless rate remains high, President Obama may seek another extension near the end of the year.

Both parties agreed in principle that aid needed to be extended. However until yesterday the extension had not materialized, and with 9.5% unemployement, people were getting more than antsy. Much of the debate centered on whether the government could afford to extend benefits in light of the national debt.  

ACLU Sues Over Fremont, NE Immigration Law

The expected lawsuits challenging the Fremont ordinance prohibiting renting to or hiring illegal aliens were filed on July 21. The plaintiffs, several Fremont, Nebraska residents and two landlords, are represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska. The suit seeks to stop the law from taking effect on July 29.

As discussed in a prior post, the city ordinance would require potential renters to apply for a license from the city. City officials will then be required to refuse to issue that license to any applicants found to be in the country illegally. Employers will also be required to verify an employee's immigration status via the federal E-Verify database.

Yeah! Cheerleading Not a Sport Under Title IX

Let's give a cheer for Title IX, the big winner in a July 21 decision by a federal district court judge in Connecticut. Judge Stefan Underhill has proclaimed competitive cheerleading not a sport for purposes of Title IX and the defendant, Quinnipiac University, will have to reinstate its women's volleyball team instead of cutting it for a cheer squad.

The University was sued last year after announcing that it was planning to cut its women's volleyball team and replace it with a competitive cheer squad to save money, according to the Associated Press. It seems cheer comes cheaper than other "sports." That may be because it is not a sport, at least not for purposes of Title IX. "Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX," U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill wrote in his decision. "Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students."

Settlement Announced in Same Sex Prom Date Suit

The corsages have long since wilted, but if you have been following the story of gay Mississippi teen Constance McMillen, you still may be interested to hear that a settlement has been announced between McMillen and the school district she sued for the violation her constitutional rights after they cancelled her senior prom. Earlier this year, McMillen sued after the Itawamba County School District refused to hold the prom, rather than permit her to attend with her girlfriend.

USA Today reports that although McMillen's attorneys are calling the settlement a total victory for the stalwart teen, the school district is refusing to admit wrongdoing in the case. The parties' agreement calls for the district to pay McMillen $35,000 plus her attorneys' fees and to enforce a non-discrimination policy that in includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

BP Oil Spill Cleanup Leads to Job Scams

Whenever there is a large scale disaster, there will be con artists, or just plan scammers, that will try to take advantage. The BP oil spill is no exception. Scammers are trying to take advantage of the desperation of unemployed workers and the desire to help out in the Gulf.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning that there have been several scams related to the disaster in the Gulf. The most recent trend has been fake job ads posted in print and online that can result in fraud or identity theft. The FTC is reporting that the scams have been conducted through e-mail, websites, fliers, mailings, door-to-door and telephone calls.

Often the scammers will claim that there is a job lined up but they need to you pay some kind of upfront fee. For example, they will say that you have already been hired, but you need to pay for a background check, training or certification. Be extremely wary of anything that promises a positive result, if only you pay something up front. Nearly all fraud scams work this way.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Sued Over PACE Program

California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed suit July 4 against federal lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their controlling agency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, over their actions blocking the state's program to fund homeowner environmental improvements paid for with a tax surcharge. The program, the Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE, has drawn $150 million in federal stimulus money in California and 22 other states.

According to the New York Times, California's PACE program allows homeowners to have the state or city pay for energy or water saving upgrades to their homes. The home then has a lien placed on it which would be a "senior loan" to the home's mortgage. Fannie and Freddie believe these to be loans that "fail to operate with sound underwriting guidelines and consumer protections," and have refused to fund mortgages on properties with the PACE financing attached. They see the 'loans' a credit risk to the mortgage holders.

DC Same-Sex Marriage Survives Court Challenge

DC same-sex marriage will remain legal, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled today. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that because marriage is a protected right, the state cannot vote to restrict it to opposite-sex couples because such a law would discriminate.

In March of this year, Washington D.C. began to allow same-sex couples to marry. The decision to allow same-sex marriage was originally made by the D.C. Council last December. Residents then attempted to get a ballot initiative approved to vote to ban same-sex marriage. The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics prohibited the ballot initiative, on the grounds that it would approve discrimination. Today the Court of Appeals agreed. The only remaining appeal is to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville who has become the face of the opponents of gay marriage, argued that the Court of Appeals was wrong and the council had over stepped its authority.

Utah Probes Leaked Illegal Immigrant List

The state of Utah has launched an investigation after a list of 1,300 alleged illegal immigrants in Utah was leaked. The leaked illegal immigrant list included personal information, such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses and phone numbers. Even the due dates of pregnant women were included on the list. State agencies are looking into whether government employees played a part in the leaked illegal immigrant list.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert wrote on Twitter yesterday that he directly asked state agencies to investigate. "We've got some people in our technology department looking at it right now," said Dave Lewis, communication for the state Department of Workforce Services. "It's a high priority. We want to figure out the how's and why's."

An anonymous group mailed the list to several media outlets, law enforcement agencies and other groups. The list included a letter which demanded that the people be deported immediately. The fallout left minority communities concerned, especially the Hispanic community, as most of the names on the list were Hispanic.

Kristen Cavallari, Miguel Medina and Dating at Work

Ripped from the headlines. Yes, just like Law and Order, FindLaw takes those big news stories and applies them to law and life, if not order. A current story to discuss is that reality star Kristin Cavallari (from the show The Hills, in case you need a score card) is dating Miguel Medina, a camera man from her show. It seems reality TV isn't always about the real reality of the star's lives. Cavallari confirmed their romance and said it would not be part of the show.

So what does this have to do with everyone living actual real lives? Workplace romance. Those of us that spend so much of our time at the office may find it increasingly likely we will click with someone we work with. But what are the ramifications of dating at work?

Georgia Land Owners File Class Action Against BP

Not that it was facing a shortage of problems, but BP can add another one to the list. BP already had over 250 lawsuits against it, but residents of Georgia with coastal property in Florida have filed another lawsuit, this one a class action against BP. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern Georgia. The members of the class allege that the BP oil spill has damaged their property.

The lawsuit was filed by Taylor English Duma LLP and Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison & Norwood LLP. The defendants are BP, Transocean and other parties involved in the oil spill. The class members are seeking monetary damages for loss of property value, loss of income and loss of enjoyment. BP has set up a $20 billion trust fund to help pay for claims caused by the oil spill.

The April 20 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, owned by BP, exploded, causing oil to stream continuously into the gulf. The explosion killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others. Several attempts have been made to stop the flow of oil, but nothing has been successful so far. The oil has now spread throughout the gulf and is causing massive damage to the environment as well as industry. It is one of the most serious environmental disasters in United States history. 

Bristol Palin Engaged to Levi: Pre-nup Time?

Shove over a bit Vienna and Jake, the next in line for the romance of the century crown have arrived. News reports have it that Bristol Palin and baby daddy Levi Johnston are engaged. So now what? How about a little primer on the pre-nuptial agreement?

Many news reports are focused on the apologies and reconciliations that have gone on between the young couple, and between Johnston and the mother of all mother-in-laws, Sarah Palin. But with a very real possibility of another break up in the future (bride and groom are 19 and 20 and under a national microscope) what could be done to keep any future fights to a minimum? Pre-nup.

24 Hour Fitness Hit with Discrimination Suit

On July 13, 24 Hour Fitness, a nation-wide fitness company, became the subject of an employment discrimination suit. The suit, filed in Alameda, California accuses the fitness company of systematic racial and gender discrimination against its California employees. The suit will seek class action status and claims damages of lost wages and unspecified punitive damages.

The Associated Press reports that one of the lead legal representatives for the plaintiffs is the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The plaintiffs' attorneys say that black, Latino, Asian and female employees systematically hit road blocks when they apply for management positions at some of the company's fitness clubs. 24 Hour Fitness has approximately 200 clubs in California.

Not so Friendly: Debt Collectors on Facebook

Debt collectors have been known to use all manner of tricks to get a hold of the debtors they are after and make them pay up. Now, they have a new tool in their box. Like the police and nearly everyone else in the world, debt collectors have discovered Facebook. If you owe money, be careful who you friend.

A report by National Public Radio on July 12 chronicled the story of one man on the run from the collection agencies. Owing more than $15,000 in student loans, among other debts, Isaac Vicknair had managed to elude his debtors for years by moving and passing from job to job; until he "set his own trap." Asked by his boss to use Facebook for work related social networking, he placed his contact information online where anyone could see it. And anyone did.

8-Year-Old's School Arrest Leads to Lawsuit

An 8-year-old autistic girl was handcuffed and arrested at her elementary school in Idaho after allegedly spitting on and inappropriately touching school instructors. The girl, Evelyn Towry, was taken to the county's juvenile detention center after being arrested on suspicion of battery.

Her parents, Spring Towry and Charles Towry, are suing the Lake Pend Oreille school district and the Bonner County sheriff's department. They are suing over the Idaho school arrest in federal court, alleging violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Towrys are seeking unspecified money damages.

Despite the lawsuit, school district attorney Brian Julian contends to the Associated Press that the school district did nothing wrong: "The school district denies any wrongdoing in this case and feels that in accordance with various precedents set forth in state and federal law, the school will ultimately be vindicated," Julian said.

Judges Survey: Better to Have an Attorney Rep You

Indicators of an economy still struggling: more of us in court, less of us with legal representation. Cases that logically seem linked to tough economic times, foreclosures, domestic relations issues, and debt actions have increased, but according to a new survey, judges think the number of people coming before them with legal representation has decreased.

According to a survey of judges for the American Bar Association Coalition for Justice, the "View From The Bench" is not an encouraging one right now. Seventy-eight percent of the more than 1,000 state trial judges surveyed say that not only have their own case loads increased, but the lack of representation has a negative impact on the functioning of the court. Ninety percent of judges stated that court procedures are slowed when parties are not represented by attorneys.

Tammy Lynn Michaels Seeks Full Child Custody

Changes to same sex marriage or even domestic partnership laws seem inevitably to be followed by situations that require a closer look at same sex divorce and custody battles. Singer Melissa Etheridge has filed for dissolution of partnership papers from her long-time partner Tammy Lynn Michaels. Tammy Lynn Michaels is now filing papers seeking full physical and legal custody of the twins she gave birth to during her relationship with Etheridge. She is also seeking child and spousal support and would give visitation rights to Etheridge.

According to CBS News, Michaels' request to gain support and full child custody are a response to the dissolution papers filed by Etheridge on July 2 which included request for joint custody and no spousal support. Etheridge and Michaels held a commitment ceremony in 2001 and registered as domestic partners in August 2005.

Settlement for UI Retirees in Benefits Class Action

The University of Idaho has settled a class action lawsuit filed by 250 retired employees over changes the university made to their insurance benefits. The employees took early retirement buyouts in 1998 and 2002 that came with certain ongoing health benefits. In 2007, in a cost cutting measure, the university changed the plan, forcing the retirees to pay for part of their premiums. The retirees sued and gained class action status.

A Latah County District Court judge approved the settlement, despite some protestations from class members. Under the settlement, unless the university declares a financial emergency, it cannot increase health insurance premiums by more than 10 percent year over year. In addition, the University of Idaho cannot lower life insurance benefits to less than $10,000.

The retirees contended that the university agreed to pay all of the medical and life insurance premiums. As evidence, they had a video tape where a University of Idaho attorney assured a group of retirees their benefits would never be changed. However, the university contended that it had the right to revise the benefits. A judge later agreed.

Unpaid Child Support Leads to Arrests

Recent stories from Cincinnati, Ohio, Somerset County, New Jersey and Mayfield, Ohio, all have one thing in common: a crackdown on deadbeat parents. Authorities in these areas are enforcing support payments in tough ways, with some even using major law enforcement sweeps to round up those behind in payments.

In Mayfield, authorities announced in late May, that 12 defendants had been indicted for failure to pay child support. One named by the Sun News was Clarence Mixon who owed $10,056.09 in support for his three children. In Mixon's case, the charges for criminal non-support were a fifth-degree felony, carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

New Louisiana Law OKs Concealed Guns in Church

Preparing for church?

Sunday clothes - check

Book of hymns - check

Handgun - wait, what?

Supporters of gun control are questioning a new Louisiana law which allows guns in church statewide unless the church bans guns. Governor Bobby Jindal signed the new law, which will go into effect on August 15, overturning a state ban. Now guns will be legal inside churches, synagogues and mosques. The new law will not apply to churches located on school property.

Some say the new law will keep people safer. For example, late term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was killed by a man with a gun in church. Perhaps if other members of the congregation had been armed, they could have shot Dr. Tiller's killer, Scott Roeder, first. Jindal's spokesman says that the governor is simply upholding the constitution. "He sides with the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners."

Was Octavia Nasr Fired for a Tweet?

20-140=0.

If you think there is something a bit off about this equation, you are correct. One hundred and forty characters is all it took for CNN senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs, Octavia Nasr, to leave her position of 20 years. After a 4th of July tweet by Nasr seeming to express sadness for the death of Muslim cleric and Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Nasr will not continue her work at CNN.

According to an internal CNN memo reported by the Huffington Post, senior VP at CNN, Parisa Khosravi, announced Nasr's exit from the news network. The memo reads, in part, "I want to share with you that we have decided that she will be leaving the company. As you know, her tweet over the weekend created a wide reaction. As she has stated in her blog on CNN.com, she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever ... we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised."

Jail Time for Detroit Parents Who Miss Conferences?

A prosecutor in Wayne County, Michigan, (which includes the city of Detroit) has a new proposal to get parents to attend at least one parent-teacher conference. The average kid in a Detroit school missed 46 days of school last year, so prosecutor Kym Worthy wants parents to start taking some responsibility -- and she is ready to put them in jail if they don't.

According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, Worthy will take her proposal to county commissioners, then on to the legislature in Lansing. The proposal is for parents to be required to attend one parent-teacher conference a year. If that conference is missed, the school would send out a letter to set up another within 14 days. If the second is missed, parents get a letter about sanctions, which could include up to three days in jail. Parents in poor health or with high-achieving students would be exempt.

Hawaii Governor Vetoes Same Sex Civil Unions

On Tuesday, July 6, Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii vetoed a state measure that would have provided same sex and unwed opposite sex couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. Although the Governor's personal feelings are in opposition to extending the rights of marriage to same sex couples, she told those awaiting her decision that she wanted to put the matter to the vote of the people.

According to Time, the bill would have extended the same rights, benefits and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union. All couples over the age of 18 would have been allowed to enter into a civil union if they were not related and not already married. As discussed in a prior post, the measure was thought to be dead, but passed late in the legislative session which ended in April of this year.

Justice Dept. to File Suit Over Arizona Law

After continuing speculation, the Justice Department has officially filed a lawsuit challenging SB 1070, Arizona's new immigration law. The new law gives Arizona law enforcement the authority to check the legal status of people they stop and requires all legal immigrants to carry their papers. Under SB 1070, when an officer suspects that someone they stop is in Arizona illegally, they should question them.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer argues that the lawsuit against Arizona is misguided, because the Arizona immigration law mirrors a federal law requiring that legal immigrants carry immigration papers. Brewer does not believe that the law will lead to racial profiling. Brewer contends that the federal government has failed to act on immigration, requiring the state to step in.

What is Stranger Originated Life Insurance?

There has been news recently about a type of transaction involving life insurance called Stranger Originated Life Insurance, or STOLI. Some states, such as New Hampshire, have already enacted laws banning it and others are considering doing the same.

STOLI is a transaction triangle involving the purchase of life insurance. An individual, usually elderly, may be encouraged to purchase an insurance policy by a broker or agent. Shortly after the policy is purchased, it is sold for a lump sum in cash to an investor, or group of investors who are the "strangers." The investors continue to pay the premium on the policy for the life of the insured. When the insured dies, the investors collect the policy benefits.

Survey: 41% of New Mothers are Unmarried

It's not just Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears, even though it seems like it. In fact, it's not just teenagers, although they are part of it. It is a huge leap overall in the past decade, in the number of women who become unmarried mothers.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, in 2008 a record number of unmarried women gave birth in the U.S. Nearly half the births in 2008, 41 percent, were to unmarried mothers -- numbering 1.7 million babies. The majority of births to women under the age of 25, 59 percent, were to unmarried women.

This is a rapidly growing trend. Compare the numbers from about 20 years ago. At that time, The Pew Center reports, only 28 percent of births were to unmarried women, with the number rising between 1990 and 2008 almost 48 percent.

200k CA State Workers May Get Federal Minimum Wage

Once again, California is taking extreme measures to deal with the $19 billion budget deficit still not addressed by the state legislature. This time, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered on July 1, that almost 200,000 state workers to be paid the federal minimum wage this month. The state still does not have a budget for the next fiscal year, which also began Thursday, July 1.

Department of Personnel Administration Director Debbie Endsley sent a letter to the California State Controller ordering that affected state employees receive only $7.25 per hour for the July pay period, according to the Associated Press. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the change should be reflected in state employees' next paycheck. Workers will be paid in full retroactively once a budget is passed.

Fired Medical Marijuana User Sues Walmart

Joseph Casias has filed a lawsuit against Walmart with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Daniel Grow. Casias was fired from a Michigan Walmart after he tested positive for marijuana. The catch? He had a prescription from a doctor for medical marijuana due to cancer in his brain and nasal cavity. And medical marijuana is legal in Michigan. 

The case has the makings of a U.S. Supreme Court showdown. Michigan, like 13 other states, has legalized the medical use of marijuana. However, under federal law, marijuana is illegal and there is no medical exception. State courts in California, Montana, Oregon and Washington have ruled that businesses do not need to allow their employees to use medical marijuana.

Joseph Casias says he uses marijuana to alleviate pain from his condition. Casias was recognized for an Associate of the Year Award at the Michigan Walmart in 2008. According to the lawsuit, Casias never used marijuana at work and never worked while under the influence. In November of last year, Casias injured his knee at work. The next day, while at work at Walmart, he was given a drug test. Casias says he presented his marijuana registry card to a store manager but he was ultimately fired for testing positive for the drug. "It's very unfair that I was fired," Casias said to the Michigan Free Press. "I hope that this doesn't happen to other medical marijuana patients across the state."

Domino's Hit With Class Action Employment Lawsuit

An employment lawsuit over wages against Domino's Pizza has been granted class action status by a judge in the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota. The lawsuit, originally brought by two drivers in Minnesota, claims that Domino's under-reimbursed its delivery drivers for automobile expenses, causing them to receive less than minimum wage. Dominos is a Michigan based corporation.

The plaintiffs claimed that in effect, the employees were required to subsidize the Domino's business by paying for their own automobile and gas expenses. According to a report by News Blaze, Minnesota law forbids employers from requiring employees to pay these kinds of expenses. Further, the plaintiffs claim that since drivers were only paid minimum wage, the amount they actually took home was less than the required wage since they paid their travel expenses out of pocket.

California Folds on Proposal to Legalize Online Poker

For a moment it looked as though online poker could become legal in California. But SB 1485, the California Online Poker Law Enforcement Compliance and Consumer Protection Act, was dealt a swift surprise defeat.  It is especially surprising considering that it was estimated that the passage of the bill would bring in $500 million annually, one quarter of the state's estimated $2 billion deficit. 

At first glance the bill had a lot to offer the cash strapped state, so why did Senator Rob Wright quickly withdraw the bill? Essentially, the bill was opposed even by most poker players and poker lobbying organizations. That's because the bill would have authorized the Department of Justice to grant three contracts to companies to operate California licensed online poker sites. 

California would accommodate three poker hubs, licensed by the state of California for a five year term to set up and operate online gambling sites. However, anyone in California playing poker at another site, including the most popular sites such as PokerStars and FullTilt Poker would have been guilty of a state crime.  Page two of the bill read "The bill would provide that it would be unlawful for any person to play any gambling game provided over the Internet that is not authorized by the state pursuant to this bill. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program."

Tiger Woods Divorce Settlement Finalized

It is a hole in 750. That is $750 million, for Elin Nordegren, the soon to be former wife of golfer Tiger Woods. Since the Tiger Woods divorce story and all that lead up to it has been played out ad nauseum, (in the truest sense of the words) we will briefly outline the monetary and legal details of the remains of the marriage.

While most news sources seem to sight the British tabloid the London Sun for their numbers, $750 million seems to be the agreed upon amount. While some have opined that this number is way beyond the traditional 50% mark hence making the much put upon Nordegren out to be a gold-digger, later reports by FOXNews and others say that the amount is based on discovery of new assets by Elin's legal team. At first thought to be worth $1 billion, more assets had been discovered making the overall amount to draw from that much larger.

How to Evict Someone

Being a landlord with a tenant who won't pay rent, damages your property, or commits illegal acts on your property is a miserable situation, for you and for your other tenants. If it becomes necessary, you may legally evict your tenant. However, there are specific legal restrictions you must follow, or you could end up sued by your tenant in return. The laws for landlords who wish to evict a tenant vary from state to state, so be sure to check your local laws with an expert before proceeding. Here though, are a few guidelines and basic terms to get you familiar with the process of how to evict a tenant.

Terminating the Tenancy

Before an eviction suit begins, a landlord must terminate the tenancy. Rules for termination vary from state to state, but in general there are notices for cause and notices without cause. Both must be served on the tenant. Notice of termination for cause are based on common sense reasons for eviction such as failure to pay rent, damage to property and illegal activity. Notices can give the tenant a chance to cure (solve the problem) or just notice to quit (leave). Notices to terminate without cause are most often used to terminate a month to month rental agreement.