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Fannie Mae stops evicting tenants of foreclosed homes

Fannie Mae has announced a national policy under which it will no longer immediately evict tenants from homes on which it forecloses. Under the policy, the mortgage giant will in effect become a landlord or property manager for many homes where there is a foreclosure. Renters often face a difficult situation when a property is foreclosed upon, and this move will help those in Fannie-backed properties by providing some breathing room while they figure out what

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New rules for mortgage appraisals

Starting May 1, 2009, new rules will apply to most appraisals of single-family homes requested by banks as part of the mortgage process. Lenders will have to comply with these rules in order to have their mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The new rules are part of an effort to keep appraisals honest. In the past, some lenders had allegedly pressured appraisers to provide certain valuations for properties in order to allow a

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Get an $8,000 tax bonus if you buy a home by November 30, 2009

The recent economic stimulus law contains a big tax break for first-time homebuyers: If you buy a home by November 30, 2009, you can claim an $8,000 tax credit. Congress had previously approved a similar credit, but it had required homebuyers to pay back the money over time. In effect, it was an interest-free loan. Under the new law, however, the credit doesn’t have to be paid back – it’s free money.

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USDA program helps many people afford a home

A little-known mortgage program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – that’s right, the same agency that inspects and approves the meat in grocery stores – is enabling many people to afford a home even if they can’t come up with a traditional down payment because of the economic downturn. The program is designed to help people buy homes in rural areas – but “rural” is loosely defined and in some cases can mean a

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New law makes it easier to sue for wage discrimination

The first law signed by President Obama will make it easier to sue an employer for wage discrimination. The law will restart the statute of limitations for a pay bias claim with each new paycheck that is issued. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is named after Lilly Ledbetter, who worked as a plant manager for Goodyear Tire but realized only after some years had passed that she was getting paid less than her male counterparts.

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Employers spy on workers suspected of lying about family leave

Some employers are hiring private investigators to spy on workers and find out if they are abusing their time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. There has been an increase recently in requests for time off under the Act, and a number of employers suspect that some workers are taking time off without a valid reason. Two federal courts have sided with employers in these cases.

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Worker who answered questions about harassment can sue for harassment

A worker who claims she was retaliated against after participating in an internal sex harassment inquiry about a co-worker can sue her employer for sex harassment, the U.S. Supreme Court recently decided. The employee was interviewed as part of the company’s investigation of allegations that a company director had committed sexual harassment. During the interview, the employee described incidents of egregious harassment against her and other employees. The director was verbally reprimanded but not terminated. The

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Independent contractor can sue for injury on the job

An independent contractor can sue for injuries on the job – even though the workers’ compensation law generally bars lawsuits for workplace injuries, an appeals court in California has decided. The worker was hired by a subcontractor to install a canopy at a gas station. He fell into a hole at the construction site and was injured.  He sued the general contractor and the subcontractor. The defendants argued that the suit should be thrown out because

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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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