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

September 2010 Archives

Zadroga Bill: 9/11 Health Bill Passes House

On September 29, the House of Representatives passed legislation known as the Zadroga Bill. This bill, if signed into law, will provide free health benefits for first responders to the attacks on 9/11. The bill was passed mostly on party lines by a vote of 268-160.

The full name of the legislation is the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The New York Daily News reports the bill will provide ongoing health benefits and more than $7 billion in compensation to the 9/11 rescue workers. The money is aimed at those with ailments linked to the toxic conditions at Ground Zero.

Prenuptial Agreements on the Rise

Before saying "I DO" an increasing number of women are also saying I do to a prenuptial agreement, according to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Martimonial Lawyers. Of the 1600 divorce attorneys polled, 73% reported a rise in prenuptial agreements, and 36% saw a rise in pensions, retirement funds, and stock options.

The study quotes AAML President Marlene Eskind Moses:

"Prenuptial agreements are becoming more generally accepted as an effective way to protect assets. Interestingly, these requests are no longer just limited to a specific gender or age group. In addition, as our society sees more people marry or remarry in their later years, there is an increasing emphasis on protecting pensions and retirement benefits if the marriage does not work out."

Moses adds that the increase in protecting pensions and retirement funds is a logical inclusion because they typically represent a couple's biggest assets.

2nd Ramsay Suicide: Time to Limit Bullying?

This week it was reported that a second chef to undergo the famous Gordon Ramsay treatment has committed suicide. The body of restaurateur and chef Joseph Cerniglia was found in New York's Hudson River after numerous 911 calls reported a man who had jumped from the George Washington Bridge. The New York coroner's office has confirmed the death was a suicide.

The first Ramsay contestant to commit suicide was caterer and personal chef Rachel Brown, who was found shot dead in her home in Dallas in May of 2007, according to BuzzTab.com. The deaths of the two chefs may have something more in common than just the fact that they were tragic suicides. Both deaths occurred after coming under the fire and abuse that is Gordon Ramsay TV.

Bullying Suicide: Asher Brown, 13

The same day that news was circulating about the second suicide of a participant on a Gordon Ramsay show, (the chef known for his bullying treatment of participants) one more story of a teen suicide was reported as well. 13 year-old Asher Brown shot himself to death and his body was discovered by his step-father. His parents say he was bullied to death.

The Houston Chronicle reports Asher's mother claims she made many phone calls and sent emails to school officials about her son, but her requests for help went unanswered. According to Amy Truong, she made visits to the school to request that something be done about the constant taunting, teasing and physical harassment of her son. She says her phone calls were not returned.

Whitman Housekeeper Claims Abuse

A press conference was held today, September 29, by controversial attorney Gloria Allred who is representing the former housekeeper of California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. According to the statement released by Allred, the Whitman housekeeper, Nicky Santillan, suffered emotional and financial abuse and will file claims with the California Labor Commission for back wages and mileage.

Closer to the heart of the matter, reports TMZ, are claims by Santillan that Whitman knew about her status as an undocumented worker and ignored it until her candidacy for governor was announced. According to the statement by Allred, Santillan was fired in June 2009, two months after Whitman began her campaign.

ABC reports that Whitman's camp believes Allred is manipulating the situation for her own benefit. "With the polls tied, it comes as no surprise that the morning after a successful debate for Meg that the sleaze machine of the political left is now focused on the politics of personal destruction," Whitman spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera said in a statement.

What is Adverse Possession?

Foreclosures, mansion squatters, it seems we are all a-buzz these days with news about abandoned and foreclosed property. The question often asked is, if the house nearby has been foreclosed on, and the bank who owns it seems to have abandoned it, can't I use it? One person even suggested just fixing up an "abandoned" house and renting it out. Although it seems like a good use of an abandoned property, and would probably even help neighborhood home values to fix up a property in disrepair, it is not that simple.

In response to a question by an individual hoping to move in, fix up and make money on what seemed to be an abandoned property, MSN.com recently gave some good advice. The first issue with attempting to "squat" and take over a derelict property is that someone, somewhere, still owns it. Although in the story covered by MSN, the putative squatter said the bank had no record on the property, it does not mean that the ownership has been relinquished.

Father to 23 Gets Prison in Child Support Case

A Michigan father gets prison time in child support case that is making headlines. SFGate.com offers a clever equation to explain the story: one man + 14 women = 23 children and prison. Yes, the father to 23 children is behind in his child support payments by over $500,000 and will now serve two to four years in prison for it -- a prison term over twice the state guidelines for this type of case.

44 year-old Howard Veal was one busy man, fathering at least one child every year from 1989 to 1999. MLive quotes the presiding judge in his child support case, "You are the poster boy for irresponsibility. You're an insult to every responsible father who sacrifices to provide for their children. Animals procreate, humans are supposed to nurture their children. Jail time is appropriate as he will likely hardly make a dent in what he owes." One woman, mother to two of Veal's children noted that she has received one payment of $87.75. Her children are not teenagers.

Auto Workers Suspended for Drinking at Lunch

The 9-5 grind can be brutal, and the lunch hour is the perfect chance to take a break from work and socialize with fellow employees. It looks like a group of auto workers at a Detroit Chrysler assembly plant took their case of the Mondays a little too far last week. Fifteen Chrysler auto workers were caught by a local news station drinking beers and smoking marijuana on the job. The employees have been suspended without pay for drinking at lunch, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The video footage showed the men leaving the plant for their thirty minute lunch and heading straight for the local liquor store, with the song Beer Run blasting in the background. Of course. The men made it back to work in time, but the damage was done. Once the video aired many of the workers were not let back into work the following day. The video and Chrysler's response should be a lesson to everyone -- it is not ok to drink alcohol at lunch and return to work.

New FTC Debt Settlement Rules Start This Week

Under new FTC debt settlement rules which went into effect this week, debt settlement companies will be restricted from making promises which they cannot keep. According to the Federal Trade Commission, debt collection companies have been promising customers that they can cut their debts in half. However, the companies are not warning customers that they will incur fees, that the time it takes to satisfy the debt is often years and how the settlement will impact their credit.

Under the new rules, debt settlement companies will have to be straightforward and honest regarding their services. They are specifically prohibited against lying, which is curious considering that one would assume that lying is already prohibited. The rules come amid complaints of deceptive practices by debt settlement companies, which rose 18% between 2008 and 2009, CNN reports.

What is Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)?

What can you do to get back on dry ground if your home value is underwater? Refinancing is usually not an option since lenders are looking for a chunk of equity to secure the loan. One good option is the federal government's Making Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

MSN writes that HARP can be a good option for struggling homeowners, but not everyone is elibible. To get help under the HARP program you must 1) not be heading to foreclosure -- any delinquent mortgage payments in the past 12 months will disqualify a homeowner; and 2) your mortgage must be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. To research whether or not Fannie or Freddie own your loan, you can go to the HARP loan lookup page.

According to MSN, other things that will have an effect on your eligibility to participate in HARP include your mortgage payment history, credit score and some lender guidelines.

This Week is Banned Books Week

I never knew a girl who was ruined by a book.

-- James Walker

Nor a boy either, for that matter. Yet even now, people seem to fear this exact thing. Each year, September 25 to October 2 is Banned Books Week in the land of the free. Each year since 1982, The American Library Association (ALA) has sponsored this week as a teaching moment to bring to the attention of all that some censorship, or attempts at censorship, still exist in the libraries and schools of our country.

According to the ALA, the intent of Banned Books Week is to celebrate intellectual freedom and draw attention to "the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books" across the country. Banned Books Week also focuses on the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

Wrongful Foreclosure: Don't Let this Happen to You

You may recall the story discussed in a prior post on FindLaw's Legally Weird about the woman whose house was wrongfully foreclosed on and how the lender in question padlocked her house and took her pet parrot. Unfortunately, this was not the only incident of this type. Several other stories have surfaced over the last year, one worse than the next. What do they all have in common? A "foreclosure" by a lender who destroyed property, caused emotional and other kinds of harm to the rightful homeowners and to their homes. In some cases, the lenders failed to even acknowledge a mistake was made, let alone make amends.

In an article first published in March and updated September 24, YahooNews outlined six stories of very, very wrongful foreclosure. In one of the most egregious, the lender who foreclosed on the property wasn't even the lender. Jason Grodensky of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, found his home foreclosed on by BofA. Grodensky and his son had purchased the home in a short sale several months before. For cash. Unusually, BofA apologized. It can only be hoped they helped repair his credit score.

CA Home Health Program Hiring Felons, Concerns Raised

The twilight years -- a time for men and women to relax and enjoy the life they spent years creating. Many children are put at ease knowing that their aging parents are in some type of retirement community, or in-house care. But do you know who's caring for your elders?

The SF Gate reports that the California Home Health Program is hiring felons. Yes, individuals convicted of violent felonies are being hired to enter into the homes of the elderly to help with healthcare services. At least 210 felons have been hired by the California Home Health Program under an application system that does not allow for weeding out criminals. The only convictions that would disqualify a worker from employment would be if he or she has a specific conviction for elder abuse, child abuse, or defrauding a public assistance program. With such a limited bar, it leaves a lot of room for other serious convictions.

'Mansion Squatters' a Growing Problem

Movin on up. And movin on in. There is one more trend brought on by bad times and many, many foreclosures. It is called "mansion squatting" and it is the new, upscale version of the squat, until now done in derelict buildings or depressed neighborhoods. As evidenced by the arrest of Randy and Evi Quaid this week for their illegal live-in situation in a house they used to own, mansion squatters are a growing problem.

According to MSNBC, mansion squatting is becoming a recognized issue in areas like Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, St. Louis, and elsewhere. Since the foreclosed houses are under the management of lenders who have many properties to oversee, they are often left empty and unsupervised for long periods of time. In addition, a luxury home is often walled off or otherwise screened and set back from the street, providing a ripe opportunity for someone who doesn't belong to move in and make themselves at home.

ND Court Upholds $12k Overdraft Fee

What would you call a $12,000 overdraft fee?

The North Dakota Supreme Court called it "reasonable."

You might call it: "outrageous, atrocious, barbaric, contemptible, corrupt, criminal, disgraceful, egregious, flagitious, flagrant, heinous, horrendous, horrible, ignoble, inhuman, malevolent, monstrous, odious, opprobrious, scandalous, scurrilous, shameless, shocking, sinful, unbearable, ungodly, unspeakable, villainous, wanton or wicked."

But did I mention that the bad-check writer had amassed 842 bad checks over the course of four years? Of course not. If I told you everything right up front, would you keep reading? It's called a hook, people.

Mosque Field Trip May Spark Suit Against School

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That particular bit of wisdom is being proved true once again, as today we struggle as a country to balance inclusiveness with individual freedom, respect with the wish to speak our minds. These issues are front and center after a dust-up in Wellesley, Massachusetts, when a field trip to a local Muslim cultural center seemed to some parents to go too far.

According to FOXNews, the mosque field trip was for a 6th grade social studies class called "Enduring Beliefs and the World Today," a class on world belief systems. Other field trips had included trips to a synagogue, a gospel concert and a visit with local Hindu representatives. Good intentions abound. The trip to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, one of the largest mosques in the Northeast, was supposed to instruct students about the architecture of a mosque and allow them to observe a prayer service. Things went a bit awry at that time.

Teen Settles in School Cell Phone Privacy Case

What happens when a high school teacher confiscates your cell phone, the principal looks through it, finds nude photos and turns the phone over to police?

You get paid.

A minor student from Pennsylvania, identified in the lawsuit as N.N., settled with Tunkhannock Area School District and school officials for $33,000. As is typical in settlements, the school did not acknowledged any wrongdoing in the cell phone privacy case. N.N.'s claims against the District Attorney's Office were not part of the settlement, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. N.N. filed a federal complaint against the District Attorney's office with the help of the ACLU.

Florida Ban on Gay Adoption Struck Down

Today, Martin Gill is one step closer to becoming the "forever father" of his two boys, now aged 6 and 10. Gill and his partner have been caring for the boys since they became their foster parents several years ago, but because they are a same sex couple, they are not allowed to adopt under Florida law. On September 22, the Florida Court of Appeals handed down a decision which found the state's blanket ban on gay adoption was unconstitutional.

The court of appeals found the state ban on gay adoption was unconstitutional because same sex parents were the only ones who could not have their petition for adoption reviewed on a case by case basis, according to the report by the Associated Press. Writing for the three-judge panel, Judge Gerald B. Cope, Jr. said, "It is difficult to see any rational basis in utilizing homosexual persons as foster parents or guardians on a temporary or permanent basis, while imposing a blanket prohibition on those same persons."

5 Things A Gal Should Know About Hazard Insurance

Sometimes, it can be irritating when a product or piece of information is given a gender slant. But on occasion, there are a few things that are quite useful to female of the species: a good education, a reliable car, an occasional manicure. What follows are five suggestions that might be most useful to the home-owning portion of our readers who just happen to be women.

As you no doubt know, when finalizing your mortgage loan, a lender requires the homeowner to purchase a minimum amount of hazard insurance which will become part of the standard homeowner's insurance policy. Hazard insurance will help protect your home and belongings against damage from fire, smoke, wind, hail, theft, or another unexpected events. Here, however, are a few things you may not know about hazard insurance:

End to 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Stalls in Senate

Last week I blogged about the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy going up for senate debate. I talked about the excitement (from both sides) surrounding the bill that sought to ban the controversial policy that has been in effect since 1993. Now, in a rather anti-climatic update, the possible end to Don't Ask Don't Tell stalls in the Senate

SFGate.com reports that the military defense bill, spear-headed by Majority Leader Harry Reid, was four votes shy of moving forward, and will likely not be revisited until after the November 2 elections. Senate Republicans voted unanimously against the bill that would set aside $726 billion in defense spending for the upcoming year.

Dad Confronts Bus Bullies, Gets Criminal Charges

Raising kids is hard. Parents have so much to worry about, including concerns over school bullies. One Florida father decided to take matters into his own hands, after his 11 year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy, told him that she was being picked on by other children at school. Specifically, the girl claimed that her peers were hitting her in the back, placing open condoms on her head, and twisting her ear on a daily basis The end result: The dad confronts the bus bullies, and gets criminal charges.

According to MSNBC, Florida native and father of two, James Jones boarded his daughter's school bus where he proceeded to yell profanity-laced threats at several of the school children that were harassing his daughter. And it was all caught on tape. MSNBC quotes the dedicated dad over the bus bullies incident, "It was a mistake. I made a mistake and I am trying to pay for that. I'm worried about my daughter, that's all I'm worried about. I do feel bad. I do feel bad, I told you that. But there's nothing else I could do."

Constitution Day: U.S. Constitution Turns 223

Although "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day" has only been in existence since 2004, the United States Constitution has been around for 223 years, so let's celebrate! Today, September 17, is Constitution Day. Constitution Day, not to be confused with 4th of July, does enjoy some educational perks.

According to the Law Library of Congress, Constitution Day marks the anniversary of a bill by Senator Robert Byrd requiring schools and federal agencies to teach students and employees about the Constitution. The bill, entitled "Constitution and Citizenship Day," requires the head of every federal agency to, "provide each employee with educational and training materials concerning the Constitution."

Jimmy John's Fast Food Workers Unionize

Jimmy John's franchise, the sandwhich chain famous for well, sandwhiches, is making headlines for the recent unionization of many of it's full and part-time employees at nine Minneapolis locations. The newly formed union is part of the much larger Industrial Workers of the World, according to the News Gazette.

Union member David Boehnke explains the reason behind the fast food workers union: "We formed a union to fight for change, starting at Jimmy John's today, and throughout the entire fast food industry tomorrow." Jimmy John's workers have been picketing outside of various store locations since labor day. Specifically, the Jimmy John's union is seeking improvements in workers' compensation, fair scheduling, liveable wages, raises, and paid sick days.

Survey: 36% Say Walking Away from a Mortgage 'Acceptable'

Despite the faintly good news about the job market, the housing market and real estate prices continue to create problems for homeowners. Personal bankruptcies are at a five year high and some of the reasons behind that number are the continuing foreclosures on homes. A new study released this week finds that in a time when more than one in every five home owners owe more on their homes that they are worth, more of us think walking away from a mortgage is acceptable.

According to new findings released September 15 by the Pew Research Center, more than a third of Americans polled say the practice of "walking away" from a mortgage is acceptable. Of course, that number still leaves the vast majority of Americans (59%) who still say it is wrong to walk away from a mortgage and surrender their home to the lender.

NYC to Ban Smoking in Parks, on Beaches

Got a light? The question that unites smokers everywhere will be relegated to sidewalks, as a new law in New York City will ban smoking in bars, bingo parlors, beaches, and parks. According to CBS News, former smoker Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed the NYC smoking ban through earlier this week.

Bloomberg is quoted by CBS: "Fundamentally, people just don't want the guy next to them smoking. People will adjust very quickly and a lot of lives will be saved." The city with a history and love for smoking, New York banned smoking in restaurants seven years ago, but the early law included an exception for those bars and restaurants that had a separate smoking section. Under the new law, business owners can be fined $400 for each smoking infraction, with the potential of having their business license suspended for repeat infractions.

Estate Planning and Undue Influence

The story of heiress Huguette Clark, a millionaire many times over, but living alone in a single hospital room, has sparked a national conversation on many elements of late in life concerns. Issues of elder abuse, fraud and questions regarding estate planning and wills have all come to mind since the story of the reclusive heiress captured our attention.

Currently, questions are being asked about the influence of and possible abuse by Huguette Clark's financial and legal advisors. One question that may arise and need legal answers is that of undue influence on a will or in estate planning in general. Although rare, undue influence is a recognized legal issue that can be used to invalidate an agreement, including otherwise valid will.

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Faces Senate Next Week

The Defense Authorization Bill, which includes the repeal of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, will be up for Senate debate next week. The Bill also includes proposed funding for upcoming military operations.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy (DADT policy) bans openly gay men and women from disclosing his or her sexual orientation while serving in the U.S. military. The policy has been in effect since 1993 (with harsher variations of the ban in effect for years prior) and has seen 12,500 gay men and women booted from armed services as a result. CNN reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is leading the charge to remove the DADT policy, taking the position that Americans should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country just because of their sexual orientation.

What to do After Losing a Home to Fire

The 7,000 acre fire that has devastated Colorado in recent days has created a chaotic scene in the mile-high state, as close to 100 structures have been completely destroyed by the fires. As is the case with all damaging fires, emotions run wild over concerns for personal and property safety, and the aftermath of the blaze can be felt for years.

Homes built in a dry, brushy landscape can be a breeding ground for wildfires, especially during the hot summer months. So what are Colorado residents, and other similarly situated victims to do after losing a home to a fire? To begin, the planning should happen before any post-fire claims are made by purchasing homeowners' insurance and engaging in annual landscape maintenance to limit the chances that a house catches fire. Planning for the unexpected will help with the financial and emotional stress associated with losing a home.

Child Custody Laws: What is Physical Custody?

Going through a divorce is rarely an easy thing for anyone involved. Many people have questions about how things will work going forward, especially when they have children. A term that comes up frequently is "physical custody." But how many people know what that really means in a legal context? This post is designed to answer the question: what is physical custody?

In the course of a divorce, child custody laws come into play.The court will determine various aspects of how the division of care for any children will be conducted. The parent who the court determines should have physical custody will be the parent that provides care for the child on a daily basis. That almost always means that the child will live with the parent that has physical custody.

Marriage and Law: What to Consider When Saying 'I Do'

Here's something to think about ... did you do all the things you need to do before saying "I Do?" More than a ring, white dress, and flower-filled ceremony, getting married is a legal contract that two people enter into, and a partnership where love law meets marriage law. There are legal benefits and burdens to a marriage, and many things to consider before and after exchanging vows.

First things first, before walking down the aisle, make sure you walk down to the county clerk's office and file for a marriage license -- a certificate which essentially grants you and your spouse the legal right to get married (usually for a small fee). Newlyweds will also need to obtain a marriage certificate after the ceremony is complete. Other factors to consider before the wedding day: whether to sign a prenuptial agreement, how to manage finances, whether the state you are marrying in requires a blood test, and how to share property acquired before marriage.

Bankruptcy: Can I Keep my House?

Bankruptcy can be a frightening event, but one that is becoming all too common. In fact, the rate of bankruptcy has risen lately to its highest levels since 2005. One of the ideas that may make bankruptcy so forbidding, is the thought that everything a person owns will be sold to pay off creditors. While it is true that many assets may have to be given up to pay outstanding debts, not everything is always on the auction block.

Many people facing bankruptcy wonder, "can I keep my house in bankruptcy?" Not a vacation cottage, but the home where their kids are growing up. Whether or not this will actually happen depends on a few different things. First, are the mortgage payments current? If the payments to the bank are still up to date it is more likely you will be able to keep your house. However, if you have fallen behind on the mortgage payments, the results may differ under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Quran Burning: Protected Free Speech?

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

This famous line, most often misattributed to the French author and philosopher Voltaire, was actually written by another author to describe Voltaire's attitude about a book burning, which took place at the command of the French government. Now, we have another book burning in the news, and we should ask not only, what is the American attitude about our right to "say anything," but what is the American law?

According to a report by CNN, Reverend Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida, has announced that his congregation will hold a Quran burning as a "warning to the radical element of Islam" on this year's anniversary of 9/11. Several religious leaders have condemned the act and General David Petraeus has asked the Reverend to reconsider, as the action may endanger troops in Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere in the world. According to CNN, the Reverend has said, "We have firmly made up our mind, but at the same time, we are definitely praying about it."

What is Labor Day?

Labor Day is upon us, and in addition to making extended weekend plans and enjoying a day off work, the national holiday is also a time to celebrate the contributions workers have made to building the United States. The holiday, which is the first Monday of September, is marked by closed courts, schools, and workplaces.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday is, "dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country." The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City, and it became a national holiday in 1884.

Feds Sue Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The Department of Justice might say that Sheriff Joe Arpaio is about as easy to negotiate as an Arizona cactus. Discussions over evidence in an on-going civil rights probe of the sheriff's office have been prickly in the past, but now the DOJ must go to court to get the co-operation it wants. The DOJ is suing for access to documents covering the immigration sweeps and jail operations that Sheriff Joe is known for.

This is the first time in the last 30 years that a police or sheriff's agency has refused to cooperate with a Title VI investigation, a DOJ spokeswoman told the Arizona Republic. The Department is seeking to compel the sheriff's office to allow access to the documents and facilities it needs to pursue its case. At stake for Maricopa County are millions in federal funding, according to county records. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, programs receiving federal funds may not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color or national origin.

Study: Illegal Immigration to US Slowing

For the first time in nearly two decades, the number of illegal immigrants coming into the United States is dropping. In a study based on analysis of 2009 census data, the Pew Hispanic Center Report notes that there has been an 8% drop in the number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. the past year, according to Business Week.

The study credits much of the decline to a sizeable drop in the number of immigrants coming from the Caribbean, South America, and Central America. Although the cause of the decline is the likely combination of a slow economy and an increase in federal immigration enforcement, the data does not lend itself to an easy read as far as how heavily each factor plays in the decline. Illegal immigrants represented 5% of the U.S. labor force last year with California, Nevada, Texas, and Arizona housing the bulk of the illegal immigrant population.

Abercrombie Sued for Religious Discrimination, Again

What makes an "all-American" look? Is it blue eyes and blond hair? Or is it what our President, our baseball heroes, our movie stars look like? The torch-bearers for the all-American look, Abercrombie & Fitch, are being sued by the EEOC for being not quite up to date in knowing what an all-American guy or girl looks like these days. This is not just an esthetic failure, but a mistake of law as well.

According to the EEOC, a complaint was filed by an 18 year-old female who applied for a merchandise stocking position at the Abercrombie Kids store at the Great Mall in Milpitas, California. In accordance with her religious beliefs, she wore a colorful headscarf to her interview. The interviewer allegedly marked "not Abercrombie look" on the young woman's interview form.

Will the CA Govt be Forced to Defend Prop 8?

Never say die. Despite the possible problems with the appeal in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case in support of California's ban on same sex marriage, Proposition 8, is not yet dead. Despite the fact that the state authorities who would be charged with enforcing the law, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown, refused to defend the law to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the proponents of Prop 8 are not yet beaten. The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative group, has filed a motion to attempt to force the state to defend Prop 8.

The PJI has asked the 3rd District Court of Appeal (a state court) in Sacramento to force the governor and attorney general to appeal the ruling by Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker striking down Prop 8. According to the Associated Press, the PJI says the AG has no choice but to defend the laws of the state, whether he agrees with them or not. "To allow an elected official to trump the will of the people by mere inaction and the lack of fulfillment of their duty to do their job would be an egregious violation of public trust," Pacific Legal Institute President Brad Dacus said Tuesday.

Study: Tough to Trick Red Light Cameras

The Internet is full of information about how to trick red light cameras and beat a red light ticket. Much of the information is dubious. What if you argue it wasn't you driving the car? What if you spray reflective materials on your plates? What if you argue the light wasn't yellow long enough? What if the photo is blurry? What if you were making a right turn on red? The list goes on and on...

But one myth has been severely discredited, so we're here to explain it to you and help you save time, and money. That is the myth of the photo reflector or "magic spray," sold by a number of companies online. According to a 2007 Discovery Channel "MythBusters" episode, as well as the LAPD, the sprays and shields are not effective.

Early Retiree Reinsurance Program Kicks Off

Health care is all the rage these days. Keeping health care coverage affordable and accessible for aging employees is a constant concern for any employer -- especially in the face of rising costs across the board. As part of President Obama's health care reform efforts, the $5 billion Early Retiree Reinsurance Program was established to help cover costs for individuals who leave the workforce between the ages of 55 and 64, according to Bloomberg.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is quoted: "In these tough economic times, it is difficult for employers to keep up with the skyrocketing health care costs for employees and retirees. The Affordable Care Act's Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will make it a little easier for employers to provide high-quality health benefits to their retirees as we work to put in place market reforms to lower costs for all." The program will cover 80 percent of health costs for retiree claims ranging from $15,000 to $90,000.