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Can I Be Fired for Something I Said? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 10/21/11

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Elizabeth: I believe i have been misclassified as an independent contractor. I do not set my own hours, or my own rate of pay. Can I file a claim against my boss with the city/state?

Joe Escalante: Oh yes. This is quite common. They do this all the time. You can file a claim with the state labor commission, or consult with an attorney who specializes in wages and hours claims. Try the link below to start talking to lawyers in your area. This is quite common.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Elizabeth: http://attorneyconnect.legalzoom.com/

Karen: Is it possible to receive corporate sponsorship for an organization before you’ve recieved 501 (c)3 status, or should I obtain that staus before I even ask?

Joe Escalante: The 501 c 3 status does many things, but the most important, to me anyway, is the ability for your donors to deduct donations. You may receive donations without this status, but you need to tell the donors that you are not a 501 c 3 yet. But most of all, talk to a tax professional because this is all about taxes.

Gerod: who can i call about a property slum lord class action law suit.

Joe Escalante: You need a landlord / tenant specialist. You also need someone experienced in certifying class actions if you are just getting this started. However, if you are a slumlord and you want to talk to someone about sticking to your slum tenants even further, you need a a lawyer of a different sort.

Tamika: If the state you’re in, isn’t doing enough to recoup child support, what are some other options I can do?

Joe Escalante: You can hire a private detective to dig up more info on the income and stashes of cash and bling that baby daddy is hiding from you. Or you can try to get back together with him. That’s the most efficient.

Casey: Thanks for the opportunity to ask a question- I’m in NY and am trying to get my divorce paperwork started but it makes my head spin. I get insurance through NYS and because of that, NYS tells me I can’t get child support. Why is this? So my exhusband gets off without any responsibility to his family in way of support, watching the kids, childcare etc etc and how can I work it into my divorce papers that he does need to contribute??

Joe Escalante: If you are telling me that your insurance policy prevents you from collecting child support, I would have to read the policy to understand the situation. You are right though. It sounds crazy. I’m not sure how the insurance company can tell you what to write in your divorce paperwork. You need to talk to a divorce attorney in your area, or at least consult with one for some clarification on this issue. Click the link below for some suggestions

LegalZoom: Here you go, Casey: http://attorneyconnect.legalzoom.com/

Dan: If a company creates a document for an appeals hearing and signs the document for you sends it to the appeals office as an exhibit you discover it use it as an exhibit noting the new document and someone signing for you then the company withdraws the appeal one hour before the phone hearing can I still purue lagal action for signing a document intended to do harm?

Joe Escalante: If a company creates a document for an appeals hearing, and signs the document for you, sends it to the appeals office as an exhibit, you discover it, use it as an exhibit, noting the new document, and someone, signing for you then the company withdraws the appeal one hour before the phone hearing can I still pursue legal action for signing a document intended to do harm?

Carrie and I are trying to make sense of your un-punctuated question. It’s hard and as you see above, we gave up. But if you are asking what we think you are asking, you can sue them if you establish certain and provable damages, caused by what they did. It’s all about damages. If they signed something under oath that was false, it’s up to the d.a. to prosecute them. You could shame them on Yelp or something, thought. There’s always that.

Jeffrey: Joe;
I hope all is well. Question? Does a first use copy written work give a holder first right and or opportunity to follow up with a Trade Mark? THX

Joe Escalante: First, we copyRIGHT things. We don’t copyWRITE them. Second. I would love to hear a hypothetical situation with more details because I think I need more to give you a good answer. Thanks.

David: I have a website coming out and the things that I put I need them to be protected what do I need to do??? Please help

Joe Escalante: First you listen to my radio show. It’s on today at 11 am PST on http://www.indie1031.com/, that’s all we talk about. Next, you want to file for copyright protection for your creative work. Legalzoom can help you with that. I recommend having them help you the first time around with copyrights. It’s worth it. Next time, you could probably do it on your own, but the first time you need help. Click the link below and get started.

LegalZoom: Here you go, David: http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-copyrights/copyrights-overview.html

Stormy: How you do file for bankruptcy on your own?

Joe Escalante: Read this book: http://www.nolo.com/products/how-to-file-for-chapter-7-bankruptcy-HFB.html
If you have a house or other substantial assets you want to keep, you may need Chapter 13, but you can figure that out. There’s a book for each. If you want to play it safe with an attorney, try the link below:

LegalZoom: Here’s the other link, Stormy: http://www.legalzoom.com/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-overview.html

Carolyn: My Daughter in law will not let me see my grandson. He is my only grandson. She wont let my son talk to him. My son has had a problem with pain pills, but she is in contempt badly. I nearly raised my grandson until he was about four. I miss him so much. I love him tremendously. I don’t do drugs or anything. She say we shout. A lawyer is a lot. What can I do.

Joe Escalante: There are many grandparents rights organizations but the problem is that when you look for them on the internet, they are invariably just fronts for law firms. You have to look around. Try this organization. Call them and ask if they know anyone in your area. http://www.grandparentsrights.org/ This varies from state to state but you may be able to secure legal visitation rights.

Adam: If you plead the 5th are you obstructing justice?

Joe Escalante: Maybe, but you have a right to obstruct justice to avoid self-incrimination. That’s how we prevent the state from having too much power. It’s not really obstructing justice. Some might call it that, but they are wrong.

Jennifer: In Kansas, what are my options if someone leave alot of stuff at my house? Can I put it in storage and put the bill in thier name and send it to them

Glenda: you can claim it as abandoned property

Jennifer: after how long?

Glenda: go to the police station and get it on file, then send them a letter telling them they have 30 days to remove their property. if they don’t comply, by law it is yours to do with as you please

Joe Escalante: Thanks good witch, but the police wont do anything but tell you to go away. In civil law there are many levels of duty assigned to the possession of others’ property. What is your duty of care? It depends on the circumstances of how the stuff was left there. If I throw a molotov cocktail through your window, you have no duty to care for the burnt remains and return them to me. However, if I beg you to let me borrow your big screen tv for the winter, I can’t complain if you don’t pick it up when I’m tired of it 1/2 way through the winter.
So be careful, it all depends on the facts.
The good witch is right about the letter. Once you send the letter telling the other party that you object to having this stuff around, your duty of care for that stuff drops. Giving them a deadline as to when they must get it and warning them that you are going to sell it if they don’t honor the deadline is good evidence, but depending on the circumstances (like maybe they’re in a coma, that you put them in), it’s all about the facts.

Shelley: My father has credit card debt. What happens to those credit card payments when he dies?

Joe Escalante: The debts have to be part of the probate process. Creditors are put on notice. They can sue the estate, or often they make a deal with the estate to settle the debts. They don’t just go away. Look into a trust for his estate. Click the link below.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Shelley: http://www.legalzoom.com/living-trusts/living-trusts-overview.html

John: I made a comment that might get me fired. Profanity was not used and it was a little off color, I realize that now. Do I have any recourse?

Joe Escalante: To be fired legally, someone has to be either an employee at will, or have a contract that they breached. If you are at will, they basically need no reason. Either way, and this is not legal advice, I would get a meeting with your supervisor right away and tell him you regret what you said. If he says tap tap no takebacks, you are screwed.

Ted: I have warrants outstanding for a misdemeanor criminal trespass and domestic PFA cases (separate incidences) that are in Montgomery Cty., Pa., that are precluding me from reentering the state and visiting my family now that spouse is dropping the PFA. Do I have any recourse so I am able to return?

Joe Escalante: If you have a warrant you have to turn yourself in to get anywhere. Staying on the lamb gets old. You can talk to a criminal defense attorney to negotiate terms of your surrender that may be more favorable than you could get on your own, but it will be expensive. Criminal defense attorneys have boat payments to make.

Bob: Someone stole a trademarked product-clear proof, a no brainer. Looking for approx $15,000 in compensation. He’s out of state-I’m in Ca. What’s the best way to proceed $$ judiciously?

Joe Escalante: You need to get a cease and desist letter out to them right away. You can find examples of these on the internet, but if you want them to think you are serious, you need to get a lawyer to write it. This lawyer should be prepared to litigate if they put up a fight. Here’s a link to some attorneys that could help you.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Bob: http://attorneyconnect.legalzoom.com/

Garry: How to best combat spam ?

Joe Escalante: There are state statutes that prohibit internet spam through emails. What I do sometimes is send the spammer the statute. This is the California code. They will either leave you alone when you show them you know it, or they will consider your address viable and sell it to more spammers.
§ 17538.4. Prohibition against e-mailing documents containing unsolicited advertising material; notification to stop e-mailing

Rod: If I have plans to start multiple businesses, some having the potential to be huge, how should I structure the big company (Waynick enterprises)?

Joe Escalante: First and foremost, hook up with a good tax professional. That will be key. They tell you what the best entities to use for your specific business. When you are convicted of a white collar crime, give me a call.

Mario: Legal Question: (CA) I’m a PI looking to become involved in Crim Def work. Is there an office in courthouses where I can apply to be placed on some type of panel to do investigation work for indigent defendants? If so, which dept/office?

Joe Escalante: That is actually very valuable. I think it would be most useful in divorce and child cases where dead beats are hiding assets, and/or children. I’ve never heard of such a panel, it’s too good of an idea for the government to think of so try talking to agencies that provide legal aid and see where it goes.

Yavette: What is the typical rate for trade marking logo and business name? Do you recommend it?

Joe Escalante: I charge $300 per hour. How long does it take? One never knows until you get into it. But I have a nice office and a boat payment I need to make. Or you can try legalzoom. They will walk you through it and it’s less than I charge, dammit. You’re looking at about $1,000 to $2,500 for a private attorney. You could do it yourself, but I wouldn’t advise that if it’s your first one. Click the link below.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Yavette: http://www.legalzoom.com/trademarks/trademarks-overview.html

That’s it for Free Joe Friday! Thanks to Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante and to everyone who joined us. We’ll be back next week with more free legal advice. See you then! Have a great weekend!

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October 25th, 2011 at 5:44 am