Valentine’s Day is coming up and millions of consumers are thinking of the perfect gifts for their loved ones; whether it’s a romantic night out or a special purchase off the internet. Certainly when looking to the internet for that purchase the online reviews help direct the buying power. This creative use of technology is used by almost everyone to determine the best products to buy and the best places to visit. However, one big question remains… are they accurate?Online Reviews

Online reviews are very skewed and not for the reason you may think. Sure, some people are biased, but the problem lies much deeper. Many companies are tech savvy and have an arsenal of legal advisors and marketing gurus working to make sure their products receive the best possible ratings. These teams ensure ratings remain high to keep consumers coming through the doors.

Some of these companies go as far as having employees or other individuals sign contracts prohibiting them from engaging in any critical or negative written, oral or pictorial reviews, effectively taking away their right to free speech and further twisting online reviews.

On December 15, 2016, President Obama signed into law H.R. 5111 otherwise known as the Consumer Review Fairness Act. The Act voids a contract if the terms:

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Law.If you have been sued, your first reaction might be that you are going to fight it with everything you have got. While this is understandable, it may not always be in your best interests to fight, even if you think you have a great defense. Here are a few things that might pop up and surprise you if you’re not ready for them.

Inadmissible evidence

If you are relying on a piece of evidence to prove your case, you should be aware that not everything you bring up is going to be admissible in court. That means your great case might be blown to bits because the jury is never allowed to even know about a certain piece of evidence that could really help you out.

There are dozens of reasons why evidence may not be allowed into court, and a full exploration of them is far beyond the scope of this blog, but you need to be aware that the admissibility of evidence is an issue you may find yourself facing. What’s more, even if a certain piece of evidence does end up being admissible, you still have to do certain things to actually get it into evidence. Things such as establishing its validity, showing its relevance, and other matters are the groundwork you have to lay before you can get evidence admitted.

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Wife and husband signing divorce documents or premarital agreementIf you are getting a divorce, you might be wondering whether you should insist on all your rights and slug it out in court or simply come to an agreement both you and your spouse can live with. The decision of whether to contest your divorce is a strategic one that can only be made after you’ve taken stock of your situation and evaluated what your position could be if you were to go to litigation.

An uncontested divorce is faster and cheaper

If your only concern is getting through this as quickly as you can, you almost certainly want to opt for an uncontested divorce. A contested divorce is like any other type of litigation: you have hearings over various motions, discovery requests and responses, and so on. All of that takes time, and a contested divorce can drag out for months or, in extreme cases, even years.

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Last will and testamentIf you have worked hard over the years and amassed a sizeable estate, you will want to make sure you have a definite plan for passing it on to your heirs. If you don’t have a will, your estate will run the real risk of going through costly and time-consuming litigation, and whatever does end up going to your heirs may not be nearly as much as you had hoped. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re putting together an estate plan.

Make sure that you actually have a will

Some people think that writing a note regarding how they want their assets to be divided is the same thing as having a will. Depending on the laws of your state, this may not be enough to make sure that the way you want your estate to be handled is how it is actually distributed. If you die without a will (known as dying “intestate”) then your estate will be divided according to some standardized rules in your state.

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Mediation. 3D. MiddlemanMediation is a great tool for reaching a solution to your issue without resorting to litigation. As most people know, litigation can be very expensive and time-consuming, and the prospect of rolling the dice when it costs so much to play can be a great motivation to resolve your issues through mediation. However, mediation does take some time and effort on the part of the participants to make sure that it is productive. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are heading to mediation.

Make sure you have a good idea of where you stand

Although you won’t be litigating your case (unless mediation fails) you still need to have a good feel for where you stand. This means you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your position, and you need to have an idea of how a judge or a jury might react to the various parts of your case.

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drewMore often than not, when people divorce, they get a parenting agreement that is meant to keep the children happy, healthy, and safe. The words that are used in that parenting agreement should be the resolving point when any type of a dispute comes up. However, when both parents agree to something that may be even more beneficial to the kids, that doesn’t mean that the parenting agreement must be set in stone.

Drew Barrymore is Changing Her Parenting Agreement to Make Holiday Memories

When Drew Barrymore got married to Will Kopelman, she said she didn’t want children. Until she was sure her marriage was going to last for a very long time, she wanted to avoid putting them in a situation that may wind up in divorce. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out the way she’d hoped. She believed her marriage would last and had two sweet little girls with her former husband. They have since divorced and gotten the typical parenting agreement so they can solve disputes when it comes to caring for their daughters.

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In a 20-page decision, United States District Judge Amos L. Mazzant has issued a temporary injunction blocking the United States Department of Labor’s controversial Final Rule increasing the minimum salary level for exempt “white collar” executive, administrative and professional employees, and requiring overtime pay for an estimated 4.2 million additional workers nationwide. The final rule would have raised the minimum salary level below which “white collar” workers would have to be paid overtime from $455 per week to $913 per week, or $47,476 annually.
Congress enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) in 1938. The FLSA requires that employees engaged in commerce receive not less than the federal minimum wage for all hours worked, and in addition, overtime pay at one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked above forty in a week.

When enacted, the FLSA contained a number of exemptions to the overtime requirement. Section 213(a)(1) of the FLSA exempts from both minimum wage and overtime requirements “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.” This exemption is commonly referred to as the “white collar” or “EAP” exemption.

gavelThe Department’s initial regulations, found in 29 C.F.R. § 541, defined “executive,” “administrative,” and “professional” employees based on the duties they performed in 1938. The regulations were revised over time, most recently in 2004. The 2004 regulations, which are currently in effect, require an employee to meet three criteria to qualify for the EAP exemption. First, the employee must be paid on a salary basis (the “salary-basis test”). Second, an employee must be paid at least the minimum salary level established by the regulations (the “salary-level test”). The current minimum salary level to qualify for the exemption is $455 per week ($23,660 annually). And third, an employee must perform executive, administrative, or professional duties (the “duties test”).

On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) to update and modernize the federal regulations defining which white collar workers are protected by the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime standards. In response, the DOL published its final rule revising the “white collar” overtime exemption regulations on May 18, 2016.

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Divorce.It has become common that anything you say online, stays there indefinitely. Even if you delete it, someone out there could still find it, if they look hard enough. This needs to be carried over when it comes to legal matters as well. If you are going through a divorce and you have been talking about your soon-to-be-ex online, make sure to take note that anything you say, can still be used in court.

Social Media Isn’t a Free-Range Forget-Me-Not

Talking on social media is common. Nearly everyone in the U.S. does it at some point in time or another. Some do it far more than others. What you say may mean nothing to you at the time, but if taken out of context or read later, those same comments can mean something different. This is the problem.

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amazonNearly everyone on the planet has heard of online giant, Amazon. They are known for many different things, from their Prime memberships to their two-day shipping in many portions of the world. However, if you have ever used their Prime membership bonuses, then you know that sometimes their settings can be a bit difficult to manage. After a number of complaints, the FTC decided to take a look into the giant’s policies regarding accidentally purchased items.

The Problem Amazon Has with In-App Purchases

Amazon understands that a lot of people let their children play with their phones, tablets, and even their TV and game systems. This can sometimes even result in items being purchased accidentally by that child. Most of the time, Amazon had no issue refunding the money, but they would do it in the form of an Amazon credit or gift card. While some people had no issue with that type of refund, some people wanted the money returned into the account it was taken from.

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subwayIf you are not familiar with the name Katie McLaughlin, she is the ex-wife of former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle. She has not only divorced the convicted sex offender, but is now taking the sandwich chain to court which Fogle used to represent. The reasoning behind her taking the sandwich chain to court is to get to the bottom of what the company knew about her ex-husband’s indiscretions with young girls.

What Is Known Through Complaints Made About Fogle

McLaughlin has found that Subway knew about the problems Jared Fogle was convicted for since 2004. Back then, there was a complaint filed against the spokesman for comments he made to a girl out in a Las Vegas franchise of Subway. He propositioned a young girl for sex, and the complaint was made. This is a full 11 years before he would be arrested and convicted for inappropriate actions with children, among other issues.

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