What Is The Legal Definition Of “Age Discrimination?”

You’ve already heard the news: the boomers are growing older and employers are hiring younger. This isn’t a lie! Nearly three billion people are over the age of 40. Under three billion are under the age of 20. You can conclude two things from these statistics. One, a big chunk of the world’s population is not yet working age. Two, a second big chunk of the world’s population is about to retire. What about everyone else? Oddly enough, this is why so many people face “age discrimination.”

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “age discrimination” occurs when someone over the age of 40 faces discrimination because of their age: “The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older.”

What are the takeaways? 

First, the victim of age discrimination can only be over the age of 40. Second, no discrimination occurred if a favored job applicant was also over the age of 40. Discrimination may have occurred if a favored job applicant was under the age of 40 and the victim was over the age of 40. Make sense? Usually, age discrimination cases involve claims of forced retirement or being passed over for promotion when a victim is already employed with a particular company. It is very difficult to prove age discrimination during the application process — although it does occur.

Not sure if you have a case? A discrimination attorney can help clear up any misconceptions you have about the relevant legal statutes or answer any questions.

Age-related harassment is only illegal when it constitutes a hostile work environment. Teasing is not considered harassment under age discrimination law.

Most employers have employment agreements that forbid discrimination or harassment based on the law. Employment agreements that “apply to everyone, regardless of age, can be illegal” according to the EEOC. That’s because certain practices that might be fair to younger employees might be unreasonable when applied towards older employees. 

For example, an employment contract that requires an applicant to regularly lift large amounts of weight might be illegal under certain circumstances. A smart employer will remove this stipulation from the contract itself — and then add it to a particular job’s expected tasks. That way, older employees who are not as physically able can still perform more reasonable tasks under a different title.

Age discrimination might also occur when an employer terminates an older employee without cause and then hires a younger employee to fill the same position. Usually, the new employee is paid less than the older employee. Another example of age-related discrimination occurs when the vast majority of a laid-off workforce is over the age of 40. 

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Laches?”

Some legal terms are far more obscure than others. Here’s one you’ve probably never run into (unless you’ve passed the bar exam): laches. This term relates to a person’s rights in relation to certain legal powers in or out of court. Read on to find out more.

According to dictionary.law.com, the legal definition of laches: “The legal doctrine that a legal right or claim will not be enforced or allowed if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has prejudiced the adverse party (hurt the opponent) as a sort of ‘legal ambush.’”

What does this mean in layman’s terms?

Most comparisons of “laches” are made to state-specific statute of limitations. For example, the statute of limitations describes the maximum amount of time a victim has to come forward to alert the authorities that a crime has been committed. For example, some states have extremely limiting statute of limitations for crimes involving sexual assault — even though most victims are young and too affected by psychological and emotional trauma to come forward in the given period of time.

Laches works in reverse in most cases. 

Let’s say a victim of sexual assault waits five years to alert authorties of the crime. The state’s statute of limitations is ten years, and so the judge allows the case to move forward. But then the defendant’s lawyer uses a “laches defense.” In this particular case, the defense attorney might say that the client’s rights are violated because it’s difficult or impossible to approach witnesses or find evidence of an alleged crime that occurred years ago. The judge would then decide whether or not this defense is appropriate — and also whether or not the case should be dismissed outright if the defense is deemed valid.

You can see why this type of defense is particularly emotionally evocative now, when the #MeToo movement has gained so much momentum. Laches and statutes of limitations are under fire because victims have the right to be heard.

Business Law: What Is The Legal Definition Of “Contract?”

We all have a basic understanding of what the term “contract” means. But it’s more complicated when taken from a business law standpoint. It can act as an umbrella term for other elements such as violation of public policy, mutual consent, offers, acceptances, mutual consideration, performance, delivery, good faith, etc. How do all these elements make a contract? Keep reading to find out.

According to Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, the legal definition of the term “Contract” is: “An agreement between private parties creating mutual obligations enforceable by law. The basic elements required for the agreement to be a legally enforceable contract are: mutual assent, expressed by a valid offer and acceptance; adequate consideration; capacity; and legality. In some states, elements of consideration can be satisfied by a valid substitute. Possible remedies for breach of contract include general damages, consequential damages, reliance damages, and specific performance.”

Usually, people need to know the definition of the word “contract” for one of two reasons: one, they won’t be able to fulfill their legal obligations determined in the contract. Or two, they have decided it would be in their best interests to voluntarily break the terms described in the contract and would like to know the legal consequences.

Any business law attorney will explain to a client that the best option is to fulfill the terms of a contract once signed. The best way to avoid breaking a contract is to read the terms carefully and renegotiate any terms that might be difficult to fulfill. A business law attorney can help clients do this.

Of course, not all contracts are created equally. For example, the lease you sign with a landlord leaves you with contractual obligations. But the law providers renters with many options if they cannot meet the terms of the lease. Not sure if that applies to you? Find an attorney to find out for sure.

What is the legal definition of “breach of contract?” 

“Breach of contract law stipulates that a breach of contract happens when one of the parties to the contract fails to live up to his part of the agreement. A breach of contract varies in severity and can be partial, material, anticipatory, or fundamental.”

Before you can argue breach of contract in a court of law, several things must be proved first. These include: that both parties understood the contract was valid (and that it was), that the contract was breached, and that one party failed to meet contractual obligations. Also, the party that breached the contract must be contacted and informed that this occurred. 

There are several types of breach of contract. They include the “minor” or partial breach, the anticipatory breach, the material breach, and the fundamental breach. These represent different levels of contractual breach. Depending on the level, the damaged party might be able to more successfully sue in court. 

Regardless of which party you represent in the contract, it is beneficial to obtain the services of a business law attorney before proceeding — especially if you expect the case will wind up in court.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Stalking?”

If you’re alive in the 21st century, then you’ve probably heard a friend say they’re being stalked. The person most likely made this comment in jest. But stalking is a very real crime with very real legal ramifications. What is the legal definition of “stalking” and what are the legal consequences? Read further to find out.

According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the legal definition of “stalking” means “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.”

Familiar with the law? You might recognize similarities between “stalking” and “assault.” Both legal terms are used to describe distress, usually by an individual. Both legal terms describe a sense of danger, usually by the same individual. The primary difference is that stalking encompasses a broader pattern while assault describes what is usually a single event. A person might also be charged with “harassment.”

Have you been stalked? Please refer to the DOJ for additional resources. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger!

The legal penalties for stalking vary by state. Usually, defendants are penalized severely only when prior offenses are on record. An individual charged with stalking might expect anything from a small fine to significant jail time. It is not unusual to receive a call from a detective before charges are placed. Cases revolving around harassment are not unusual, and so public officials try to limit resource expenditures on non-serious threats.

A victim of stalking might request or be granted a writ of protection. This document alerts the victim of next steps should the stalking continue and also lets the stalker know when an arrest is imminent. But basically the writ of protection is just a friendly reminder to obey the law or face the consequences. Restraining orders are sometimes, but not often, granted in stalking cases.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Marital Separation?”

What happens when a married couple decides to “separate” instead of divorcing immediately? Marital separation and divorce are different, according to the law. But it might mean something different to the couple in question than it would in a court of law — but then again it might not. Many couples realize that divorce is inevitable but choose to separate to make the court process easier.

Most family attorneys specialize in more specific practice areas like adoption or divorce. According to the law, “divorce” is defined as the dissolution of a marriage. That means that both spouses are free to remarry once a judge has declared a divorce final. Legal divorce is called “dissolution of marriage” or “absolute divorce” or “total divorce” or even “divorce from the bond(s) of matrimony.” 

Divorce is often a complicated process. It becomes more difficult the longer the marriage continues. This is because married couples are more likely to have shared property or children. Property must be divided equitably — which can be different than a 50/50 split — and even children must be assigned to one parent or the other. This is why most divorces require legal counsel. Couples rarely want to risk judicial decree when it comes to children or property, which is why the majority stay out of court.

Marital separation is different from divorce. If you have more specific questions, a legal website can provide you with contact information for a family lawyer.

According to the law, “marital separation” is defined as living apart either under judicial decree or by mutual understanding. A couple cannot be legally separated when living under the same roof! 

A legal separation by judicial decree will often involve finances, child custody, etc. These will include new legal obligations that cannot be ignored. Often, the law becomes involved due to differences of opinion involving religion or finances. Children complicate the matter further. Don’t forget: many couples consider themselves “separated” even when the courts are not involved in personal matters. This is not a “legal” separation and will have little bearing on potential divorce proceedings later. 

What are the major consequences of legal separation? First and foremost, the couple might still share a joint bank account — but once legally separated in a court of law, neither spouse is allowed to freely spend. The judge will decide how and why money can be withdrawn to meet financial obligations. Also, shared assets might be governed by the law as well. A shared vehicle might mean the judge decides who gets to use it and why. 

Another important facet of the law that must be considered is that many states require a period of separation before a judge is allowed to dissolve a marriage.

It is important to discuss options with legal counsel when deciding whether or not to separate prior to divorce. An individual might also seek counsel from other sources such as the church.

What Are The Legal Consequences Of Dodging Jury Duty

Our system of law considers jury duty one of the biggest civic services that a person can provide. What does this mean? It means that you owe your community simply for living there. When a crime is committed, our legal system requires a group of peers to determine a person’s guilt. Many people are excited for this opportunity! Others are not. They will usually try to escape service.

When the court sends a notice in the mail that a person is required to perform jury duty, escaping service might be as simple as suggesting that impartiality is impossible. For example, a person might know the accused or already have prejudices about the specific case. These are completely legal avenues for dodging jury duty. They have few, if any, consequences. The juror in question will likely be asked to perform jury duty again in the future.

But there are also illegal methods of dodging jury duty.

One of those methods is simply failing to appear in court during the specified time. The legal consequences for this are usually minor, but they depend on your local jurisdiction and whether or not you were scheduled to appear in state or federal court. The consequences for failing to appear in a federal court are likely more severe than failing to appear in your own town’s court, for example. 

What might happen if a potential juror fails to appear in court? Sometimes, nothing at all. The person will simply be placed back into the system and asked to serve again later. Sometimes, there will be a fine for each day missed. Other times, the person will be asked to appear in court to explain his or her absence. In rare cases, a person might be arrested and escorted to court by the police.

Should the person fail to provide an appropriate reason for missing the scheduled court appearance or give the judge attitude, he or she might be penalized with criminal contempt. This often carries more severe legal consequences. Judges have a lot of leeway in how they approach this charge. It could even include incarceration!

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Abuse?”

What do you think when you hear the word “abuse” used in a sentence? Probably violence or neglect. You might think primarily of vulnerable children or animals whose parents or owners fail to properly take care of them. But even adults can suffer abuse. Domestic violence is a common occurrence in the United States. The definition of abuse is a varied one, legally, and spans many different practice areas.

Cornell University defines “abuse” as “generally: physically, sexually, or mentally injuring a person…Child abuse: physically sexually, or mentally injuring a child either with intent or through neglect…Substance abuse: excessively using or misusing a legal or illegal substance.”

The word can even be used in Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings! Everyone living in the United States heard the word uttered over and over during Donald Trump’s impeachment trials: “abuse of power.”

Here are a few of the relevant laws.

Child sexual abuse occurs when a person — usually an adult — has any kind of sexual activity with a minor. The age of consent varies by state, and is set at 16, 17, or 18 years old. Children below this threshold cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Child sexual abuse occurs when an adult fondles or touches a minor, speaks obscenely to a minor, exposes themselves to a minor, produces naked images of a minor, trafficks a minor, etc.

An abuse of power is not always legally defined. For example, the United States Senate could have found former President Donald Trump guilty on charges of abuse of power when articles of impeachment were introduced (they failed to do so), and it need not have occurred because Trump committed a literal crime. Abuse of power occurs when a public official loses the public’s trust, engages in corrupt activity, or commissions an unlawful act. 

Most states have numerous animal abuse laws on the books. In Virginia, for example, legal code states that “It is unlawful for any person to kill a domestic dog or cat for the purpose of obtaining the hide, fur or pelt of the dog or cat.” But this is only one law. Others generally ban animal cruelty. Most states allow animals to be killed when they become a danger to others.

Mental or emotional abuse is one of the least understood. According to the Stop Abuse Campaign, an “ACE study defines emotional abuse as a parent or other adult in the household often swearing at you, insulting you, putting you down, humiliating you, or acting in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt. It’s important to notice the word ‘often’ here; a single instance of parental bad behavior is not enough to cause a lifetime of trauma for children.”

And that’s the purpose of most abuse laws — to prevent long-term trauma, especially for vulnerable sections of the population. If you’re not sure about your state’s abuse laws, you can easily search for them online or make inquiries to a personal injury or sexual abuse attorney.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Mistrial?”

The recent verdicts of the Derek Chauvin trial — which we believe will go down in history as one of the most important trials this century — have led a number of people to question whether or not the verdicts might someday soon be overturned. During the trial itself, it was supposed that the judge might even have to declare a mistrial. But what exactly is the legal definition of the word “mistrial” and when do they occur?

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), “Mistrials are trials that are not successfully completed. They’re terminated and declared void before the jury returns a verdict or the judge renders his or her decision in a nonjury trial.”

Some reasons that a mistrial might be declared are more common or well-known than others. For example, most people who hear about a mistrial might presume that the jury has in some way been inadvertently influenced by an outside factor or maybe even that a bias that was previously unknown has surfaced in one of the members.

Other common reasons for a mistrial include a juror’s misconduct. This might occur when a juror either voluntarily or accidentally makes contact with someone connected to the case — a one on one meeting with the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, family member, etc. It can also occur when jurors reflect on evidence that was never presented during the trial or evidence that was deemed inadmissible by the judge.

A mistrial might also be called when the jury fails to reach a unanimous verdict. This results in a “deadlocked” jury that cannot make a decision because one or more members are holding their ground and refuse to change their vote. This is rare.

Another rare reason for a mistrial occurs after the death of a juror or attorney. In these circumstances, it’s impossible to simply “replace” the deceased with a new juror — because the new juror hasn’t heard the evidence.

What Function Does A Magistrate Judge Have In Legal Proceedings?

Most people have probably never even heard of the term magistrate judge — but they perform an important function in legal proceedings. Federal ones, that is. The United States functions by hierarchy. We have social hierarchies. We have corporate hierarchies. We have military hierarchies. We have legislative hierarchies. And we have judicial hierarchies. 

The latter looks something like this: at the top is the U.S. Supreme Court. Underneath the Supreme Court are all the federal and national laws that we must obey to stay out of federal prison. The next court is the U.S. Court of Appeal, which has the authority to overturn lower court decisions much the same way that the Supreme Court can overturn its decisions.

Even further down are the U.S. District Courts. From that point and above, everything is governed by federal bodies. Lower are the state laws, state courts, county and local laws, and local courts that we must navigate to stay out of state run jails. Generally, if you break a local law, you would expect to incur a lesser wrath (and smaller penalty) than you would if you broke a federal law. 

When you seek out attorneys for help after being charged with a crime, who you contact is dependent on where the crime was committed — and even who is charging you with the crime. Lots of small town attorneys will only handle local and state charges. When you’re charged with a federal crime, you need experienced trial attorneys. Hale & Monico is one example of a law firm that handles federal cases that are likely to end up in front of a jury.

Now climb back up the ladder until you arrive back at the district courts. According to the Utah branch of US Courts, “A U.S. magistrate judge is a judicial officer of the district court and is appointed by majority vote of the active district judges of the court. A U.S. magistrate judge is appointed based upon the recommendations of a citizen’s merit screening committee.”

Different judges are appointed depending on where they fall in the aforementioned hierarchy. For example, federal judges are nominated by the president — but it falls to Congress to certify the nomination. You’ll remember that Obama “left” hundreds of federal seats open. But in actuality, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used his power to block every one of them. When former president Trump entered office, he allowed Trump’s nominations to proceed. So political maneuvering plays a big role in how and what gets done.

US Courts added, “A U.S. magistrate judge exercises jurisdiction over matters assigned by statute as well as those delegated by the district judges. A full-time magistrate judge serves a term of eight years. Duties assigned to magistrate judges by district court judges may vary considerably from court to court.”

This is different from district judges, who are also nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate, and serve for life.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Means Test?”

Anyone filing for bankruptcy should hire a bankruptcy attorney before proceeding any further. It’s best to know the strength of your case before you head to court, which will use a “means test” to determine whether or not you are eligible for bankruptcy benefits (if indeed you can call them “benefits”.)

According to Cornell University, the legal definition of “means test” relates to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings. Cornell describes it as “a formula that uses in bankruptcy law to decide if the debtor is eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If the debtor fails the means test, the debtor can only apply for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The purpose of the means test is to see that if the debtor is abusing the bankruptcy system by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases even though they could afford to pay at least some of their debts. Therefore, the means test is mainly testing the ability of the debtor to pay the creditor(s).

There are two steps to a successful means test. The first step measures the monthly income of the debtor at the time of filing and compares it to the census bureau’s median income in the state where bankruptcy was declared. The median income is updated yearly.

If the debtor’s income exceeds the given threshold, a second step is introduced into the equation. In this second step, required monthly expenses are subtracted from the aforementioned monthly income for a period of sixty months. Expenses included in this formula are food, clothes, health care, rent, utility costs, and costs of transportation. 

If the debtor remains exigent after these steps are followed during the means test, then bankruptcy will be successfully completed. The debtor will have to wait several years before they can apply for bankruptcy again, which means it is best to wait until all other financial options have expired before declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy.