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How to leave a vacation home to your children

You might think it’s easy to leave a vacation home to your children in your will. But there are many issues that can arise. For instance, over time children might squabble over whether to sell the property or who will pay for major repairs or renovations, especially if some children use the home more than others. And there are tax, liability and asset protection issues to consider as well. Here’s a look at some of your

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When buying a home, it’s not always easy being green

Homebuyers, businesses, and residential and commercial tenants are all showing interest in “green” buildings these days – those designed to save energy, use sustainable materials and have less of an impact on the environment. Many buyers and renters are willing to pay a little more for a green building – especially if they can recoup their money through energy savings.

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It’s easier to sue a store for selling liquor to a minor

It’s easier to sue a bar or a store for selling alcohol to a minor, under a recent decision from the Massachusetts Appeals Court. In this case a teenage boy went to a store and bought a 30-pack of beer. He shared it with some friends. One of the friends then drove away and struck another car, severely injuring someone. The injured person sued the store. Ordinarily, a store can be sued for selling alcohol to

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Mass. businesses must do more to stop identity theft

Many Massachusetts businesses will have to adopt new procedures to prevent the theft of sensitive customer information, as a result of new state regulations that take effect on May 1. The new rules put Massachusetts in the forefront of protecting consumers’ private data and preventing identity theft. However, they also create many new hurdles for some businesses at a time when those businesses are facing larger economic challenges.

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Disabled workers have more rights

Disabled workers in Massachusetts have more rights to request workplace accommodations and to sue for discrimination, as a result of a new federal law. The law amends the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) so that it covers more workers. It applies after January 1, 2009. The original ADA protected people with disabilities, and defined a “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. But that left open a

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Non-compete agreements get more scrutiny in down economy

With the economy in a downturn, there may well be an upturn in disputes about non-compete agreements, which prohibit employees from leaving and working for a competitor. Rising unemployment levels and the difficulty of finding a new job could lead many former employees to challenge these agreements. And this is true at a time when many courts are striking down these agreements or severely limiting them.  The law varies from state to state, but generally a

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E-mails could modify an employment contract

E-mails between an employee and an employer could modify the terms of their employment contract – even though the contract said that any changes had to be in writing and signed. That’s the result of a decision from a New York appeals court. The case involved the owner of a public relations firm who sold his firm to a French company. Their contract provided that the owner would continue as CEO for three years. After six

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Salaried workers sue for overtime

Is it possible for employees who are paid a salary to sue because they didn’t get overtime? It’s highly unusual, but a recent case shows how it can happen. The case was brought by a group of Wal-Mart employees who claimed that the company changed their base salary so often that they were in effect hourly wage earners.  In general, federal law requires overtime pay for hourly workers who work more than 40 hours a week,

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Employee sues for harassment by co-worker

An employee who claimed she was sexually harassed by a co-worker – who wasn’t her boss – can sue her employer for not having an effective policy in place to deal with such a problem, according to a recent court case. The employee claimed that a worker in another department sent her sexually explicit pictures, made lewd phone calls and left suggestive items at her work station. She sued the employer, claiming that the company fostered

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Homeland Security may force companies to fire workers

The Department of Homeland Security has issued new rules that may require companies to fire certain workers. The rules come into play when the information that workers provide their employers doesn’t match the data on file with Social Security. Where this happens, the government can send the employer a “no match” letter, and the employer then has 90 days to resolve the discrepancy or fire the worker. The idea is to reduce the number of people

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