Wage-and-hour complaints are at an all-time high

Federal wage-and-hour lawsuits against employers are at an all-time high. In fact, the number of employee lawsuits has quadrupled in the last 10 years, according to government figures.

A big reason for this is a sharp jump in claims that a company improperly treated an employee as an independent contractor.

Of course, more and more businesses these days want to treat their workers as “contractors,” because they can avoid overtime rules, payroll taxes, employee benefits and medical leave requirements.

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Apartment rents increase, along with apartment building values

Apartment-rents-increase-along-with-apartment-building-valuesThe cost of renting an apartment hit record levels in the second quarter of 2012, according to a study by Reis, Inc., which tracks real estate data.

Rents increased in all 82 markets in the U.S. that the company tracks, and set new records in 74 of them, the company said.

And while national data on the value of apartment buildings can be hard to come by, it appears the value of these buildings (including multifamily homes) is spiking as well, at least in many markets. This is in contrast to the market for single-family homes in the last few years.

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Prepare now – new 3.8% tax on investment income starts in 2013

Prepare-now-new-3.8-percent-tax-on-investment-income-starts-in-2013A new 3.8% tax on investment income will take effect in 2013, and anyone who has significant investments or who manages a trust should be planning for it now.

The tax was included in President Obama’s health care law. In the past, many people didn’t plan for the tax because they thought the law might be struck down by the Supreme Court. But now that the Supreme Court has upheld the law, the tax will take effect as scheduled starting January 1.

The tax applies to single filers with adjusted gross income over $200,000 and married filers with adjusted gross income over $250,000. It also applies to trusts (and estates) with undistributed investment income of more than about $12,000 – so the effect could be very great on them.

For single and married taxpayers, the flat 3.8% tax applies to (1) the total amount of investment income, or (2) the amount by which adjusted gross income exceeds the $200,000 or $250,000 thresholds – whichever is less. So for instance, if a single taxpayer has $225,000 in adjusted gross income and $10,000 in investment income, the tax applies to the $10,000. But if the same taxpayer has $225,000 in adjusted gross income and $50,000 in investment income, the tax applies to $25,000 (the amount by which the taxpayer’s income exceeds the $200,000 threshold).

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Lab can be held liable for errors in testing

Lab-can-be-held-liable-for-errors-in-testingThere are many situations in which you might be required to undergo some type of lab testing. In addition to medical tests ordered by your doctor, you might have to pass a drug screening in order to be hired, or take a medical test to show you’re qualified for certain jobs or benefits.

But did you know that if a lab makes a careless error and produces a wrong result, it could be held responsible for any harm that follows?

Take the case of a mother in Oklahoma who – in order to collect child support – sought to establish the paternity of the man she believed was the father of her child.

Lab tests can make a huge difference in a person’s medical care, job prospects, or even criminal record. Labs have a legal duty not to be careless.

The state arranged for a lab to conduct a DNA test, and the lab reported that the man was not the father. It conducted a second test that produced a similar result.

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Birth control could raise the risk of blood clots

Birth-control-could-raise-the-risk-of-blood-clotsConsumer safety advocates have believed for quite some time that the popular birth-control pills Yaz and Yasmin, which contain the synthetic hormone drospirenone, can cause heart attacks, strokes and gallbladder failure.

Recently, the manufacturer of the pills settled about 70 lawsuits that raised such claims – out of more than 11,000 that have been filed.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced another potentially hazardous side effect: blood clots.

According to the FDA, some recent studies have indicated that taking Yaz or Yasmin triples a patient’s risk of developing blood clots. The FDA is now requiring all makers of birth-control pills containing drospirenone to include information about these studies on their warning labels.

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