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March 2009 Archives

For consumers out there angry at big business and bailouts in general, Ford, GM, and Walgreen are taking some high-profile steps to try to get back in their good graces, while at the same time perhaps making good business moves. The L.A. Times reports that GM and Ford, on one hand, are offering to make car payments for certain customers who lose their jobs. Walgreen is also reaching out by offering free clinic visits to the unemployed and uninsured for the year, providing tests and routine treatment for minor ailments, according to the AP. On the business side, the plans hope to increase slumping sales for the car makers (Korean car maker Hyundai had success with a similar plan), while the Walgreen clinics hope to increase their visibility and referrals.

The Walgreen offer applies to its in-store Take Care clinics and covers "respiratory problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other ailments." This saves uninsured customers the typical cost of such treatment, which amounts to $59 or more. The "GM Total Confidence" plan offers to make up to $500 worth of payments for 9 months for car purchasers if they get laid off within two years of purchasing their car. The "Ford Advantage" plan, announced a few hours earlier, offers 12 months of payments at a maximum of $700. The GM plan also offers "to protect customers against uncertainty in the future used car market".

Layoffs Hit Family Courts: What Happens if I Can't Afford Child Support Payments?

Rising unemployment has a ripple effect on the economy in a variety of ways, and the New York Times reports that one consequence for Family Courts across the country has been a drastic rise in the amount of child support modification cases being heard. This recent increase in inquiries regarding modification is particularly alarming because it includes "parents who previously paid diligently but are now having trouble." Although child support modification cases are not a rarity, parents themselves facing possible furloughs, layoffs, or pay cuts might be asking themselves what happens if they can no longer afford their child support payments?

Gay Marriage Battle Heats Up in New England: Summary of Legal Developments

As court proceedings and the debate continues over the passage of California's Proposition 8, which amended the state's Constitution to limit the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, the AP reports that the battle over gay marriage is raging on in New England.

Although the reasons why the focus has shifted to New England are debatable, laws legalizing gay marriage are now being considered in the legislatures of three states in the region. At the moment, Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only U.S. states that allow marriage for gays and lesbians.

Can a Layoff or Reduction in Force (RIF) be Discriminatory?

Every day seems to bring with it woeful news about rising unemployment and layoffs across the nation. As if that's not bad enough standing alone, today a New York Times article pointed out how some employers may be using the same layoffs to tacitly get rid of pregnant women in their workforce, thus shaving off accompanying business expenses.