Starting January 1, 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will start regulating consumer collection agencies. Hopefully this means that the various federal consumer protection laws will start to be enforced, as the Federal Trade Commission has done a horrifically poor job in regulating this area.
If you feel that you have been wronged by a debt collector (or their attorney, as they are considered a debt collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act), I urge you to file a complaint with the CFPB, who might actually take your complaint seriously and not ignore you like the FTC does.
With the exception of a few State Attorney Generals (such as Lori Swanson of Minnesota), most State Attorney Generals have willfully ignored the rampant criminal abuses of debt collectors and their attorneys. Hopefully, the CFPB will start to crack down.
If you need legal representation to deal with a collection agency or their attorney, please contact me to discuss how I can help you.
For the past 6+ years, I have been doing pro-bono work for Philadelphia VIP. I am honored that they chose me as their Volunteer of the Month for August 2012!
The Consumerist relates the tale of a New Jersey women who was hit with a $1,286.55 default judgment (i.e., she was sued in court and did not respond to the complaint). The problem occurred when the collection attorney started to garnish her wages (which is legal in New Jersey), but then refused to tell the women how much money she actually owed. The moral of this story is do not ignore any court documents that you receive. Also, never admit that you owe a credit card company (or other debt collector) any money. If you get sued, make sure that you file a response to the complaint. If you are having trouble finding an attorney, contact your local county bar association for a attorney referral. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact the legal aid office listed on the summons (or ask your local county bar association for the phone number).
EEOC Holds View That Transgender Discrimination Is Illegal Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
Last week, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a decision in a Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 employment discrimination case brought against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, finding that Title VII prohibits discrimination based upon a person’s “gender identity, change of sex, and/or transgender status”.
While this decision is not binding upon any of the federal courts, it is now officially the EEOC’s position, and that will certainly influence the federal courts going forward. If you are a business, it would be helpful that all of your managers with hiring and firing decisions, as well as the human resources department, be informed of this decision, to ensure that the EEOC’s new guidelines are adhered to. Please contact me to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss this decision or any other employment questions you might have.
Are you an “intern” at a company or do you have “interns” working for you? Are you sure that you or the person working for you is really an “intern” and not an unpaid-employee? Quite a few businesses have mis-classified (either accidentally or on purpose) a worker as an “intern” which results in (1) the worker not getting paid or receiving overtime; (2) the employer not paying the employer’s share of medicare/social security taxes (FICA) for the worker; and (3) the employer not paying into the state’s unemployment compensation fund on behalf of the worker.
The US Department of Labor developed six criteria to determine if someone is really an intern (and exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs the federal minimum wage and overtime, among other things), or is actually an employee:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
The help-wanted sections of Craigslist are filled with job listings for “interns”, yet based on the job descriptions, the employer is actually seeking an unpaid employee, which is illegal. Desperate job seeks will apply for these jobs, hoping to get some experience, only to wind up being exploited.
The penalties for a business caught mis-classifying someone as an “intern” when they really are an employee, can be steep: (1) civil penalties from the US Department of Labor for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act; (2) civil penalties from whatever state the “intern” is working in for violating that state’s wage payment law; (3) civil suit from the “intern” for violating the two previous-mentioned statutes; (4) civil suit (and possibly criminal charges) from the Internal Revenue Service for not paying the employer’s share of medicare/social security taxes (FICA); and (5) civil suit from the state’s unemployment compensation fund for not paying into it.
If you are currently working as an “intern” or you are an employer who has an “intern”, it is important to make sure that the “intern” classification is appropriate. Further information and assistance can be obtained by contacting me for a free consultation.
I am pleased to announce my sponsorship of Crossfit South Philly’s Rumble, taking place on Sunday April 15, 2012. Come out and watch your favorite elite exerciser.