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Legal Resources

Grooming policy for employees may be illegal

Can an employer adopt a grooming policy that requires male workers who have contact with customers to be clean-shaven and have trimmed hair? Maybe … but this might amount to religious discrimination, according to a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision. The worker in this case was a technician at a Jiffy Lube service station. He was a Rastafarian and his religion did not permit him to shave or cut his hair. The company told him that if

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Employees can be forced to forfeit their stock

A company can force departing employees to forfeit their stock in the company in certain circumstances, according to the Connecticut Supreme Court. The company allowed employees to elect to receive restricted stock in lieu of bonuses or through voluntary payroll deductions. However, employees who quit or were fired for cause were required to forfeit the stock as well as the right to the amounts paid for the stock. The employees in this case argued that the

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Company didn’t have to give 60 days’ notice of layoffs

A company didn’t have to give 60 days’ notice of layoffs where it was forced to shut down operations due to the sudden loss of a major customer, according to a recent federal court ruling.  Normally, under the federal “WARN Act,” companies with 100 or more workers must provide 60 days’ notice of a plant closing or a mass layoff.  However, there is an exception for “unforeseeable business circumstances.”  The company’s financing problems resulted in its

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New family and medical leave rules go into effect

New rules apply to workers requesting time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. Generally, FMLA allows workers to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave per year due to a serious health condition, a family member’s serious health condition, or a birth or adoption. The Act also allows leave due to a relative’s military deployment. Employees are eligible in most cases if they have worked at least 12 months for

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Credit card companies make it harder to get a mortgage

Some people are finding it harder to get a mortgage these days … because of their credit card company. Why? Because credit card companies have reacted to the recent economic downturn by reducing many cardholders’ credit limits and cancelling inactive cards. The companies’ goal is to reduce the risk of non-payment. The problem is that whether you can get a mortgage – or how good the terms of that mortgage are – depends to a great

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You might be paying too much in property taxes

Many people are paying too much in property taxes, and may be eligible for a reduction or a refund. Property taxes are calculated by taking the assessed value of your home and multiplying it by the local property tax rate. But since home prices in so many areas have decreased recently, it’s possible that the assessed value of your home is now larger than its actual value – in which case you might be entitled to

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Gift tax exclusion increases to $13,000 in 2009

The amount that you can give to someone without having to pay the federal gift tax has been increased to $13,000 a year, effective for 2009. The previous maximum was $12,000 a year. Many people will want to take advantage of this new limit to increase their annual giving as part of their estate plan. The limit is the amount that any one person can give to any other person. So for instance, if a married

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Landlord can’t be sued for one tenant’s harassment of another

Even if a black tenant’s family was subjected to racist comments and verbal abuse by a white tenant’s family, the black tenant can’t sue the landlord, says the Ohio Supreme Court. The black tenant claimed she kept an extensive record of the harassment and reported each incident in writing to the landlord. However, the landlord (a public housing authority) allegedly didn’t do anything. An Ohio law prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants because of race. However,

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Condo could prohibit religious displays on doorways

A condominium association can prohibit owners from displaying any objects on or in front of their doorways – including Christmas decorations and crucifixes, says a federal appeals court in Chicago. In this case a woman sued because the condo rule had prohibited her from placing a traditional Jewish mezuzah on her doorpost. She claimed this amounted to religious discrimination. But the court said that the rule was valid as long as it was a blanket ban

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