Month: October 2016

Alabama Employer’s Ban on Dreadlocks Okayed by Appellate Court

Dreadlocks banned in AlabamaThe 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the federal appellate court for Alabama cases, recently ruled that a Mobile company’s ban on dreadlocks for their employees does not violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of an African American woman who wore her hair in dreadlocks. The woman’s job offer was terminated after she refused to change her hairstyle. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan, who authored the unanimous opinion, acknowledged such determinations are often difficult: “We recognize that the distinction between immutable and mutable characteristics of race can sometimes be a fine (and difficult) one, but it is a line that courts have drawn.” The full opinion of the case, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Catastrophe Management Solutions, is available here.

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Clowns Are Creepy. Can They Also Be Criminal?

Scary ClownMany folks have questions about the differences between certain misdemeanors that seem to cover the same behavior: “Menacing”, “Reckless Endangerment”, “Harassment” and “Disorderly Conduct”. They all seem to protect against the same sort of intimidating and threatening behavior, so how are they different? Recently, there have been plenty of reports of clowns scaring people all over the country. These terrifying carnival folk are carrying weapons, following and chasing people, and even trying to lure children into local wooded areas. In a strange way, these clown sightings help explain the differences in the misdemeanors I discussed above. Let’s run through some “creepy clown” hypotheticals together to give you a better understanding… and get in the Halloween spirit!

Menacing – 13A-6-23

“A person commits the crime of menacing if, by physical action, he intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.” The criminal act must be intentional and it must place the victim in fear of imminent serious physical injury. Typically, serious physical injury means death or grave bodily harm close to death. Thus, often times, menacing is charged when a weapon is used to intimidate or scare someone.

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Alabama Among States Suing to Block New Rule on Overtime Pay

Overtime Pay Money - Huntsville, ALA coalition of twenty-one states and several businesses and industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are suing to block the new overtime-pay requirements set to take effect in December. They argue that the new policy is unconstitutional, unduly burdens the states, and violates the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers to the states. The lawsuit was filed in a Texas District Court and is available here. The rule is designed to boost lower and middle-class wages by raising the salary threshold for overtime pay, and is considered a significant policy milestone for the Obama Administration. By the Department of Labor’s estimates, over four-million people will be impacted by the new rule, including 60,000 workers in Alabama. The rule applies to all employees, including managers, executives, and other professionals, unless they fall under an exempt occupational category.

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Beat a Potential Fed Rate Hike by Refinancing/Buying a House Now

Huntsville, AL HouseLast week, the Federal Reserve voted to hold key interest rate at current levels. Nevertheless, three board members voted for a rate hike, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said the “case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months.” The decision came as a surprise to some economic observers who were expecting a small hike in interest rates. The Federal Reserve’s decision is good news for homebuyers and those looking to refinance at a low rate. If you are a potential buyer on the fence about purchasing a new home, your window of opportunity to lock in a great rate may be starting to close. The federal funds rate is the interest rate by which banks lend money to each other, which the Federal Reserve uses to impact the amount of money in circulation. In turn, this rate effects how expensive it is for consumers to borrow money to buy houses, cars, and other large purchases. Even a small quarter-point rate hike can lead to a sizable difference in interest paid by the borrower over the term of a thirty-year mortgage.

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