4 Legal Trends to Watch Out For in 2015

Abogado Aly Civil Law in 2015A new year brings a new set of legal trends put in motion to fix an underlying issue that became prevalent in 2014. Here are the top legal trends to watch in 2015:

1)    Changes in Washington – 2015 is the first time since 2009 where Congress has a one-party control of both the House and Senate. This unified congress may lead to an increase in legislative output and coordination between the two parties. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell stated that Congress will be focused on passing legislation to decrease government spending, increase energy production, revisions on the Affordable Care Act and other laws, and a review of the current tax code.

2)    Laws in Higher Education – Due to increased national attention, there will be more processes put forth to decrease and the number of sexual assault and violent cases on college campuses. Future findings of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will lead towards a more thorough process on Title IX’s best practices. In Washington, Congress will take steps to promote campus safety as well as more definitive guidelines to hinder confusion and mandatory reporting to local law enforcements. Higher education institutions must make ensure that their school protocols and procedures fall in line with Title IX and the Cleary Act, among other acceptable state laws.

3)    eDiscovery – The changing environment of electronically stored information will most certainly take effect in alterations to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures. These alterations will look to amend the ways in which data is preserved and e-discovery sanctions. The laws put forward are expected to favor large corporations with large quantities of ESI. These laws are also expected to include computer-assisted reviews with predictive coding as the industry continues to mature.

4)    Developments in Wage-Hour Class Action – 2015 is shifting towards the year of the employer this year in terms of wage-hour class action lawsuits. This coming year shows signs of laws moving towards “issue certification” and more limited populations in-order to classify for a collective action.

 

Lawyer Discusses Civil Law and Ferguson

Abogado Aly Civil Law Charles OgletreeAfter the ruling of the grand jury involved in the case of police brutality in Ferguson, Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School Professor, answered a few questions on the legality of the ruling, according to an article recently completed by The Daily Illini.  His thoughts were issued in the question and answer section of a presentation he was making at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center; the talk was about civil rights, police brutality and what comes next in the nation.  The grand jury involved in the case was ruling on the legality of the actions of police officer Darren Wilson, for the death of Michael Brown.  For Ogletree, the legality of the case is cut and clear—he believes Wilson should be arrested and indicted.  However, alternatively, the grand jury was unable to indict the police officer.  Ogletree wasn’t necessarily surprised; he claims that he did not think Wilson would be indicted because he’s a police officer, and officers of the law are rarely indicted, according to him.

As a result, students at the university that was hosting Ogletree for the presentation organized a march.  This was only one march of many that resulted around the country; Ogletree himself organized one for his students at Harvard.  In the question and answer portion of the presentation, one audience member asked Ogletree what was needed to keep a movement like this mobile.  For Ogletree, numbers are crucial; groups need to always be growing, allowing the initiative to become bigger and different than any others in the nation.  Ogletree also said that this is very feasible for those against the Ferguson ruling; he declared that here isn’t one state that the citizens can say people of color aren’t treated differently based in their race.

Ogletree isn’t just leading marches to make a stand against this issue.  The legal team representing Michael Brown’s family has already approached him, expressing interest in approaching the case from a civil law perspective.  Ogletree responded that that is a prospect he would be very much interested in, and has agreed to lend his support to the case.

Civil Law Presents Conflicts for Republicans

Abogado Aly Civil Law Houston TexasIt has become a standard amongst American society that when the individual sees they have been wronged, they are able to take their assumedly powerful foe to court.  The proceeding trial is often envisioned as a dramatic battle between good and evil, with the wronged party assuming they will always win, and manage to extract some monetary compensation out of the ordeal.  However, this standard amongst society in the United States can often be taken too far, in the eyes of some Republicans.

In an article recently completed by The Gilmer Mirror, the court proceedings of the state of Texas against the federal government of the United States were summarized.  The list of items the Lonestar State is suing over included air quality, health care, banking regulations and money for education.  In addition to this, school districts across the state are suing their state government.  The issue has become so extensive that Texas has been forced to hire “trail lawyers,” which specialize in civil law to defend against criminal indictments.

This conflict has resulted in two separate groups of opinion.  One side firmly believes that there should be limits placed on the number of lawsuits filed against businesses; however, this same group often encourages proceedings against the federal government, in the name of the cause they are fighting for.  Republicans in the state of Texas believe the court system is being taken advantage of by these very people.  Twenty years ago, George W. Bush, who was running for governor at the time, saw this problem, and proposed a possible solution.  The result was his four pronged campaign approach, which focused on a reform to civil justice, education, juvenile justice and welfare.  Conveniently, this sought to both rectify the “lawyer bashing” that had started to become popular, while also serving as an attack on his Democrat opponent; Democrats were notoriously a favorite in terms of donations from lawyers at the time.  Essentially, the reform made it harder to file some civil lawsuits.  While civil justice lobbyists have continue to fight the reform, the beliefs started with Bush’s campaign remain cemented into Republican campaigns to this very day.

 

Texas Companies Under Heat for Violations Against Americans with Disabilities Act

Abogado Aly Americans With Disabilities ActA new online article done by the “Austin Business Journal” discusses recent action taken by Texas civil right groups. The civil rights groups are suing cab companies for violations regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act. The two civil rights groups in question are ADAPT and Texas Civil Rights Project. They have filed over 30 lawsuits across Texas against Uber, Lyft, and Yellow Cab stating that these companies do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ADAPT is a grassroots organization fighting for equal rights for people with disabilities. The Texas Civil Rights Project is a non-profit organization focusing on educating people and aiding litigation for economic, social, and racial injustices. ADAPT and Yellow Cab have been battling in litigation for years regarding the companies disability practices. Uber and Lyft are new to the industry; however, they have been completely absent in their efforts to make their service accessible for people with disabilities.

These startups are content with catering to a more young mobile group rather than complying the Americans with Disabilities Act because it makes their business move faster. Lyft, for example, does not have cars that are wheelchair accessible, in Austin, yet. Yellow Cab has been known to leave people with disabilities waiting for hours.
Both Yellow Cab and Lyft have released statements saying that their companies are committed to servicing the entire community with emphasis on people with disabilities.

Other businesses in Texas have been sued as well. Some of these businesses include residential lofts and condominiums, the Austin Club, La Michoacana Meat Market, and a Pizza Hut. Nightclub roof decks that are only accessible by stairs are a violation of the disabilities act and are also being sued. Medical facilities that do not provide deaf patients with an interpreter are also subject to litigation.

These are basic civil laws that many businesses seem to be ignoring. These civil rights groups have to take the law into their own hand and make a stand against businesses not complying with this basic civil law.

The Laws for Federal Minimum Wage in the United States

Abogado Aly Civil Law Minimum WageIn a recent article by United States Department of Labor, wage and hour division is discussed. In this article, many questions about minimum wage law are answered. A common question that many US citizens ask is, “how much is federal minimum wage?” The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) says that the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. This has been in effect since July 24, 2009. In many states, citizens are entitled to both the state and federal minimum wage laws- meaning the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage. That being said, there are also numerous exceptions apply under certain circumstances such as to workers with disabilities, full-time students, youth under the age of 20 and tipped employees.

Employees that fall under the “tipped employees” category often wonder how their minimum wage differs from other employees who are not tipped. An employer can not pay an employee less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages if that amount plus the tips received equals at the least the federal minimum wage amount. On the other hand, if an employee’s tips combined with the direct wages received do not equal the federal minimum wage by the hour, then the employer has to make up the difference.

For people under the age of 20, there is also a different minimum wage for them. In the first consecutive 90 days working for the employer- the minimum wage is $4.25. After those 90 days are over, the employee is allowed to receive $7.25 per hours for minimum wage. In addition, there are also exceptions for full-time students. This applies to students who work in retail or service stores, agriculture, or college and universities. The employer that highers the full-time students can receive a certificate from the Department of Labor that allows the student to be paid not less than 85% of the minimum wage. In addition, the certificate also limits the number of hours the student works during the school year to no more than 8 hours a day and 20 hours a week. The certificate also requires the employee to follow all child labor laws and once the student graduates, they are allowed to receive $7.25 per hour.

To make sure everyone receives the correct amount of minimum wage they are allotted, the FLSA states that minimum wage applies to employees of enterprises that have an annual gross of at least $500,000. For additional information about minimum wage laws- people can visit the Wage-Hour website here.

 

Civil Cases – Wrongful Termination

Abogado Aly Wrongful Termination One very common type of civil law case is that of wrongful termination. Wrongful termination can fall under many categories. The first is discrimination. It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee because of their race, religion, sex, nationality, age, and in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation. A couple of weeks ago, a Houston man by the name of Odell Hyden, filed a lawsuit against his company for age discrimination. Hyden had worked for Hagemeyer and its predecessor for over 50 years, and in April of 2013, he was let go for “poor performance.” Hyden alleges that this had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with his age. He is accusing his company for age discrimination, retaliation, and violations of the Human Rights Act.

This brings us to our second type of wrongful termination: retaliation. Retaliation is when the employer fires his or her employee because they have submitted a discrimination claim or are participating in a discrimination investigation. Retaliation is forbidden in the United States under civil rights law.

The next type of wrongful termination is an employee’s refusal to commit an illegal act. This should go without saying; however, it is still written in the constitution. If an employer asks an employee to perform an illegal act and he refuses, the employer may not fire the employee.

The last type of wrongful termination is when an employee is fired for not following the company’s termination procedures. Most companies have a procedure when terminating and employee. If that employee is let go before finishing the procedures, they might have a claim for wrongful termination.

In the US, there is no single wrongful termination law. There are several laws and court rulings that define the concept. Wrongful termination has become the most common labor claim in the United States.