Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

October 2017 Archives

We all know that you need to register in order to vote. But did you know that you also need to vote in order to vote? At least according to Ohio election officials you do.

Since 1994, the Ohio secretary of state's office has had a voter purge process whereby it compiles a list of registered voters who have gone two years without casting ballot and mails them a confirmation notice. If the voter neither returns the notice nor participates for the next four years, the voter will be automatically struck from the rolls.

Larry Harmon was once such voter purged from Ohio's voter rolls, and his lawsuit against the state is heading to the Supreme Court. Here's a look.

As soon as people realized how important a URL or domain name could be -- and how cheaply they could be acquired -- cybersquatting became one of the internet's first scams. Cybersquatters purchase URLs with another business's or celebrity's name (or even some close misspellings) with the hope of either enticing the purchase and therefore profit off the URL, or to snare unwitting internet users looking for the legitimate entity.

So if you think someone is cybersquatting on a URL to which you're entitled, how do prove it and what legal remedies do you have?

It's no secret that getting a divorce can be expensive. But it doesn't have to break your bank. And one of the many potential ways to keep divorce costs down is to be less combative with your soon-to-be ex and be more collaborative instead.

A collaborative divorce is one in which the parties use mediation and negotiations to settle contested issues in their divorce rather than battling it out in the courts. So how can a collaborative divorce save you money, and how much will it cost?

As the Trump administration ramps up its immigration reforms and enforcement, sanctuary cities and states have found themselves squarely in the federal government's legal crosshairs. The lawsuits have been flying, and people are wondering whether immigration enforcement agents will respect churches as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.

Although U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement designates churches as "sensitive" places to be avoided when making arrests, living in a church -- or a sanctuary city or state -- is no guarantee against deportation. Here's what you need to know.

California Governor Jerry Brown this weekend signed the Gender Recognition Act into law, allowing state residents to choose or change gender on a birth certificate to be female, male, or nonbinary. It is the first state do so, and is the third, along with Oregon and Washington, D.C., to allow gender neutral drivers licenses.

While the bill applies to new birth certificates, it also eases the restrictions on birth certificate and drivers license changes, eliminating the requirement that a gender change applicant have undergone any treatment prior to the change. Here's a look at the new law.

While claims of harassment and assault against Harvey Weinstein are grabbing all the headlines, the explosion of #MeToo on Twitter and social media proves that sexual harassment exists across all employment and gender boundaries. Sexual harassment by anyone, at any job or even outside of work, is unacceptable, but many of us struggle with identifying sexual harassment when it happens and how to respond.

So here are some clues on spotting sexual harassment at work, and how to deal with it.

The latest iteration of President Trump's Executive Order banning foreign immigrants and visitors from Muslim majority nations has been blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii.

No, you're not suffering from deja vu. Judge Derrick Watson, the same judge that blocked the second travel ban, temporarily blocked travel ban 3.0 from going into effect. This newest iteration of the executive order travel restrictions was set to go into effect on October 18, 2017.

After three failed attempts by Congress to repeal Obamacare, President Donald Trump took matters into his own hands last week, signing an executive order reshaping how people get insurance through work and threatening to end federal subsidies to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act.

"I just keep hearing repeal-replace, repeal-replace," Trump said while signing the order. "Well, we're starting that process." So what does the executive order do, and what could ending subsidies mean for your health coverage?

There is a common misconception among some property owners that once you buy the land, you can do whatever you want with it. Those property owners often find local, state, and federal zoning laws a rude awakening.

Even those people trying to live as off-the-grid or low-impact as possible may find zoning laws in their way. The tiny house movement, a whole lot of hipsters and environmentalists trying to live within very little spaces, is running into its own zoning problems. So if you're dreaming of living simply inside of 500 square feet, do some research first, before local zoning laws give you a reality check.

As fires in Sonoma County, California rage on, the first concern is safety: getting residents out of harm's way and getting injured residents necessary medical treatment. And when the flames are out, people will turn to rebuilding and compensation for property lost to the fires.

Most residential and commercial property owners will turn first to their insurance policies, fingers crossed that they cover fire damage and natural disasters. If you're filing an insurance claim after a fire -- or wondering if your policy covers fire damage -- here's what you need to know:

The morning of Monday, October 2, 2017, Windfern High School Principal Martha Strother witnessed senior student India Landry sitting during the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance over the school's intercom. Landry had allegedly been sitting through the pledge since her freshman year, "around 200 times in class through six or more teachers without incident." But Principal Strother's response on this occasion was curt and definitive: "Well you're kicked outta here."

Landry was expelled from Windfern High, told she would only be allowed to return if she "was going to stand for the pledge like the other African-American [sic] in her class," and finally readmitted after negative coverage of the expulsion from local news. All of which, and Landry's mother's lawsuit against the school district, begs the question: can public schools discipline students for peaceful protests?

Less than a year after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a federal lawsuit accusing the largest student loan servicing company in the country of "systemically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment," the Pennsylvania Attorney General followed suit, claiming loan servicing giant Navient "put their own profits ahead of the interests of millions of families across our country who are struggling to repay student loans."

Navient is in charge of some $300 billion in student loan debt after it split with Sallie Mae in 2014, and could be on the hook for that company's subprime student loans and loan servicing shenanigans.

Any time a 4.1 GPA student claims teachers and school administrators 'threatened, punished and censored her, for expressing her opinions on religion, abortion, sex education, and drug education in an attempt to chill, deter and restrict (her) from freely expressing her opinions,' you know it's not a good situation.

Cidney Fisk, a self-described atheist, claims she clashed with Delta High School staff on issues ranging from abortion and sex ed classes to football game attire, to the point that her grades were adjusted down and a counselor threatened to rescind letters of recommendation. Those threats led to anxiety attacks, and then a lawsuit against the school district, along with specific teachers and school staff.

Losing a job ain't fun. Even losing a bunch of hours can be stressful. After all, you still have bills to pay, and last I checked your landlord, phone, and cable company don't adjust their rates based on your income.

That's why we have unemployment insurance. But what about underemployment or partial employment insurance? Can you get benefits if you have a job, but it's not allowing you to work or paying you enough? Here's a look.

In America, we pride ourselves on our freedom of speech, and readily point to how much we support the First Amendment, even when it protects speech we don't like, like racist, sexist, or fascist ideas.

But the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are American creations, and their protections don't follow us as we travel. And Europe isn't so welcoming to hate speech. Therefore the First Amendment may not apply to our social media speech, if that speech is appearing on platforms in the European Union.

Just like any other contract, a lease agreement binds both parties, landlord and tenant, to abide by its terms. And, just like any other contract, a lease agreement can be broken. And while most of us are familiar with the repercussions of tenants breaking a lease -- late fees, loss of security deposit, eviction, etc. -- what recourse does a tenant have if it's the landlord violating the terms of a lease agreement?

Here's a look: