Hobby Lobby and Student Loans?

In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, wherein the highest court in the land affirmed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to closely held corporations (i.e., some 90% of corporations employing over 50% of private employees), that closely held corporations can have sincere religious beliefs, and that those beliefs allow them to opt-out of the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate, one lawyer has a pretty neat idea. Can such an exemption apply to student loans?  Continue reading

Nothing Can Protect You From the Wrath of Student Loan Servicers — Not Even Paying Your Bills

I’m 31 years old and have a good job as a lawyer in Manhattan. I’ve reached the point in my life where I can afford my monthly student loan payments, with a little help from my law school, and also afford to finance a tiny co-op somewhere in the outskirts of Brooklyn or Queens. So, I’ve made it, right?

Except I can’t borrow so much as a dime. I have terrible credit, despite the fact that I’ve never failed to pay a bill in my life. The only debt I’ve ever had is from law school. Like a good fiscally responsible adult, I’ve always paid those bills on time, always paying more than my monthly minimums to try and pay them off more quickly. Continue reading

How A Quirk of the Equal Pay Act Causes Some Women to Miss Out

President Obama promised in his 2014 State of the Union address to fight unequal pay between men and women in America. While the statistics are often debated, there is no question that women in the US do often make less than men for the same work. While President Obama has outlined an agenda for addressing this problem, there’s one thing he hasn’t addressed, which has stymied a number of people who come to my office asking for help. A bizarre intersection of two laws has resulted in numerous people, who think they are doing everything right to protect their rights, completely losing their ability to sue under the Equal Pay Act—precisely the law designed to effectuate the equality the President was talking about. Before the President starts up too many task forces, maybe he should consider simply ensuring that people are able to use the laws already on the books. Continue reading

Should Lawyers Unionize?

A recent article in Salon argues that the reason unionization is so low (and, consequently, wages are so low) in the US is that white collar Americans insist on thinking of themselves as management, even when they are in no way in charge of their own work, and therefore don’t think of themselves as in need of a union. This is nowhere more true than in the profession of law. Continue reading

Warrantless Data Used as Evidence in Domestic Court

I wrote earlier about the fear that warrantlessly obtained evidence would be used against US citizens and green card holders in domestic criminal cases (rather than to nab foreign terrorists or intelligence agents, as the government has contended is the only purpose of the warrantless spying program). Of course, it was quickly revealed that such evidence was already being used to convict domestic criminals, but the warrantlessly obtained evidence itself wasn’t being introduced into court, rather it was being, essentially laundered.

Now, in a sort of good-news / bad-news twist, federal prosecutors will end the practice of laundering warrantelessly obtained evidence. Continue reading