New Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9

Starting on May 7, 2013, employers must use the new Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to comply with employment eligibility verification requirements under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. 

This new Form I-9 is now a 2 page form, and adds several new fields.  Some key revisions include:

  • Section 1 - Adds data fields, including additional passport information for some foreign workers in the U.S.  The provision by the employee of his or her email address and telephone numbers are optional.  If a company is enrolled in E-Verify, the employee must provide a Social Security Number in Section 1.
  • Section 2 - A revised layout for List A, B and C documents is on a second page, and space is provided at the top for the employer to write in the employee's name. 

In addition, the USCIS has released an updated Handbook for Employers, Guidance for Completing Form I-9, which provides guidance on completing the new Form I-9. 

Employers who fail to use the new Form I-9 starting on May 7 may subject to penalties.

Please note that this update is not intended to constitute legal advice. 

If you have questions regarding compliance with the Employment Eligibility Verification requirements or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.

 

California Pregnancy Regulations Extend Requirement to Provide Health Insurance Coverage Under the CFRA

February 17, 2013

When the California legislature passed SB 299 in 2011, amending the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to require employers to provide continuing health insurance coverage during pregnancy disability leave, it did not appear that the change in the law would impact employer obligations to provide health insurance coverage under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).  However, the pregnancy regulations adopted by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, which became effective on December 30, 2012, clearly extend an employer’s obligation to provide health insurance coverage for up to an additional 12 weeks of CFRA leave after pregnancy disability leave has ended.

Obligation to Provide Health Insurance Under the CFRA

The CFRA provides that an employer shall maintain group health plan coverage for up to 12 workweeks, commencing on the date that FMLA leave begins:

During any period that an eligible employee takes leave pursuant to subdivision (a) or takes leave that qualifies as leave taken under the FMLA, the employer shall maintain and pay for coverage under a “group health plan” as defined in Section 5000(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, for the duration of the leave, not to exceed 12 workweeks in a 12-month period, commencing on the date leave taken under the FMLA commences, at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment continuously for the duration of the leave.  Nothing in the preceding sentence shall preclude an employer from maintaining and paying for coverage under a “group health plan” beyond 12 workweeks.

Cal. Gov. Code Section 12945.2(f)(1)

At the time the CFRA was enacted, the only difference in the types of leave covered by the FMLA and the CFRA was that leave taken for disability on account of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions (“pregnancy disability leave”) was covered by the FMLA, but not by the CFRA.  FMLA leave runs concurrent with pregnancy disability leave, while CFRA leave does not begin to run until after the end of pregnancy disability leave.   For this reason, the statute (cited above) makes clear that only 12 weeks of health coverage is mandated under the CFRA, and the 12 weeks of coverage begin to run when FMLA leave begins to run (earlier than CFRA leave, in the case of pregnancy disability).

The CFRA regulations also clearly explain that only 12 weeks of health coverage are required under the CFRA, and in the case of pregnancy disability, those 12 weeks begin when FMLA leave begins:

(c) Provision of Health Benefits.

If the employer provides health benefits under any “group health plan,” the employer has an obligation to continue providing such benefits during an employee's CFRA leave, FMLA leave, or both. The following rules apply:

(1) The employer shall maintain and pay for the employee's health coverage at the same level and under the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period.

(2) This obligation commences on the date leave first begins under FMLA (i.e., for pregnancy disability leaves) or under FMLA/CFRA (i.e., for all other family care and medical leaves). The obligation continues for the duration of the leave(s), up to a maximum of 12 workweeks in a 12-month period.

(3) A “group health plan” is as defined in section 5000, subdivision (b)(1), of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. If the employer's group health plan includes dental care, eye care, mental health counseling, et cetera, or if it includes coverage for the employee's dependents as well as for the employee, the employer shall also continue this coverage.

(4) Although the employer's obligation to continue group health benefits under either FMLA or CFRA, or both, does not exceed 12 workweeks in a 12-month period, nothing shall preclude the employer from maintaining and paying for health care coverage for longer than 12 workweeks.

                        California Code of Regulations, Title 2, Section 7297.5(c)

The FEHA Provides for Continuing Health Insurance Coverage During Pregnancy Disability Leave But Does Not Address Health Insurance Coverage Under the CFRA

The amendment to the California pregnancy discrimination law under the FEHA did not speak to the provision of health care benefits under the CFRA.  It instead only requires an employer to maintain and pay for health coverage during an employee’s entire pregnancy disability leave (up to 4 months):

[It shall be an unlawful employment practice][f]or an employer to refuse to maintain and pay for coverage for an eligible female employee who takes leave pursuant to paragraph (1) [pregnancy disability leave] under a group health plan, as defined in Section 5000(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, for the duration of the leave, not to exceed four months over the course of a 12-month period, commencing on the date leave taken under paragraph (1) begins, at the level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment continuously for the duration of the leave.  Nothing in this paragraph shall preclude an employer from maintaining and paying for coverage under a group health plan beyond four months.

Cal. Gov. Code Section 12945(2)(A)

Reading the amended pregnancy discrimination law and the CFRA together, an employee taking pregnancy disability leave followed by CFRA leave would be entitled to up to four months of health insurance coverage.    For example, if an employee took four months of pregnancy disability leave, she would be entitled to a full four months of health insurance coverage, but once her pregnancy disability leave ended and she began CFRA leave, she would have already received her 12 weeks of health insurance benefits required under the CFRA, which would have commenced on her first day of FMLA leave (running concurrent with and expiring during her pregnancy disability leave), according to Section 12945.2.

The Pregnancy Regulations Conflict with the Health Insurance Coverage Requirements Under the CFRA

The new pregnancy regulations directly conflict with the CFRA, stating instead that the time period that health insurance coverage is provided during pregnancy disability leave shall not be used to meet the obligation to provide health insurance coverage for leave taken under the CFRA, even when pregnancy disability leave is also designated as leave under the FMLA: 

The time that an employer maintains and pays for group health coverage during pregnancy disability leave shall not be used to meet an employer’s obligation to pay for 12 weeks of group health coverage during leave taken under CFRA.  This shall be true even where an employer designates pregnancy disability leave as family and medical leave under FMLA.  The entitlements to employer-paid group health coverage during pregnancy disability leave and during CFRA are two separate and distinct entitlements.

California Code of California Regulations, Title 2, 7291.11(c)

In other words, according to the new pregnancy regulation cited above, the 12-week health insurance coverage “clock” under the CFRA that would normally begin ticking when FMLA leave begins (pursuant to Government Code Section 12945.2) does not start ticking until after pregnancy disability leave ends and CFRA leave begins. 

Although there is an argument to be made that the Fair Employment and Housing Commission stepped outside of its regulatory authority in adopting a provision directly contradicting California law, the regulation is on the books, and employers risk facing litigation if they do not follow it. 

The full text of the final pregnancy regulations is available here.

Please note that this update is not intended to constitute legal advice. 

If you have questions regarding compliance with California’s pregnancy regulations, the CFRA, the FMLA or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.

Ninth Circuit Rejects Suitable Seating Affirmative Defense

February 14, 2013

In an unpublished Memorandum Opinion issued on February 13, 2013, the Ninth Circuit ruled that employees are not required to request seating prior to bringing a private attorney general action over their employer's failure to provide suitable seating. 

In Green v. Bank of America, 11-56365, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California had granted Bank of America's motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiff tellers had failed to state a claim for alleged violations of the suitable seating requirements under Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 7-2001 because they did not allege that they had asked Bank of America for seats.  Wage Order 7-2001 § 14 states: "All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats."

The Ninth Circuit found that "[t[he district court erred when it assumed a requirement, not in the text of the Wage Order, that employees must request seating before it is offered."

The Ninth Circuit's memorandum opinion is available here.

Please note that this summary is not intended to constitute legal advice. 

If you have questions regarding compliance with suitable seating requirements or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.

 

New California Employment Laws for 2013

October 18, 2012

This update summarizes California bills recently signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

 

AB 1964 Clarifies that Religious Dress and Grooming Practices are Protected Under FEHA and that the Undue Hardship Standard Applied to Assess Religious Accommodation Requirements under the FEHA is More Stringent than the Standard Applied Under Title VII

On September 8, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which amends Government Code Section 12926(p) and Government Code Section 12940(l). The bill clarifies that “religious dress” and “religious grooming practices” are aspects of “religious belief, observance and practice” which are protected under the California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Both terms are to be construed broadly. “Religious dress” includes “the wearing or carrying of religious clothing, head or face coverings, jewelry, artifacts and any other item that is part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.” “Religious grooming” includes “all forms of head, facial and body hair that are part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.”

Notably, the bill also clarifies that the definition of “undue hardship” under the FEHA is to be applied when considering a request for a religious accommodation, and that this is the same standard applied when assessing disability accommodation requests.  The legislative history makes clear that "undue hardship" under the FEHA is a more stringent standard than the "de minimis cost" standard applied under Title VII.  

The bill also specifies that an accommodation of an individual’s religious dress or religious grooming practice is not reasonable if the accommodation requires segregation of the individual from other employees or the public.

 

AB 1775 Increases the Wage Garnishment “Floor”

On September 23, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 1775 which amends Sections 706.011 and 706.050 of the Code of Civil Procedure regarding wage garnishment to increase the minimum amount of a judgment debtor’s weekly earnings that are exempt from wage garnishment.

The bill amends Section 706.011 by defining “disposable earnings” as “the portion of an individual’s earnings that remains after deducting all amounts required to be withheld by law.” The bill amends Section 706.050 by stating that the maximum amount of disposable earnings subject to garnishment is “the lesser of the following:

  • Twenty-five percent of the individual’s disposable earnings for that week
  • The amount by which the individual’s disposable earnings for that week exceed 40 times the state minimum hourly wage in effect at the time the earnings are payable.”

The bill also provides for different minimum wage multipliers in case an individual is paid on other than a weekly basis (i.e. daily, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly).

The bill will become operative on July 1, 2013.

 

AB 1844 Restricts Employers’ Use of Employees’ Social Media

On September 27, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 1844 which adds Section 980 to the Labor Code. Section 980 prohibits employers from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant to:

  • Disclose a personal social media username or password;
  • Access personal social media in the employer’s presence; or
  • Divulge any personal social media.

However, the law does not “affect an employer’s existing rights and obligations to request an employee to divulge personal social media reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations, provided that the social media is used solely for purposes
of that investigation or a related proceeding.”

“Social media” is defined as “an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.”

Employers can still require or request an employee’s username or password for accessing “an employer-issued electronic device.”

The law also provides that an employer may not discharge, discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request or demand by the employer that violates Section 980.

 

AB 2386 “Sex” under FEHA Includes Breastfeeding

On September 28, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 2386, amending Government Code Section 12926 by clarifying that the definition of the term “sex” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act includes “breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding.”

 

AB 1598 Modifies the Definition of “Installation” Regarding Public Works

On September 30, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 1598, amending Labor Code Section 1720 by providing that the term “installation” as it refers to public works “includes, but is not limited to, the assembly and disassembly of freestanding and affixed modular office systems.”

 

AB 1744 Applies New Requirements for Temporary Services Employers Regarding New Hire Notice and Itemized Wage Statements

On September 30, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 1744, amending Labor Code Section 226 and adding Section 226.1 to the Labor Code. The bill amends Section 226 by requiring temporary services employers to include on the employee’s itemized wage statement the rate of pay and the total hours worked for each temporary services assignment. This new requirement goes into effect beginning July 1, 2013.

In addition, AB 1744 amends Labor Code Section 2810.5 by requiring temporary services employers to include on the required new hire written notice the following information regarding the legal entity for whom the employee will perform work:

  • Name
  • Physical address of the main office
  • Mailing address, if different from the physical address of the main office
  • Telephone number
  • Any other information deemed material and necessary by the Labor Commissioner

New Labor Code Section 226.1 provides that the requirements applicable to temporary services employers under Section 226 to report rate of pay and total hours worked for each assignment do not apply to security services companies licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs that solely provide security services. Likewise, amended Section 2810.5 specifies that the new hire notice requirements pertaining to temporary services employers do not apply to a security services company that is licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs and that solely provides security services.

 

AB 2103 Private Agreements Cannot Include Overtime Hours in a Nonexempt Employee’s Fixed Salary

On September 30, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 2103 amending Labor Code Section 515 and overturning the decision in Arechiga v. Dolores Press (2011) 192 Cal. App. 4th 567 regarding overtime and payment of a fixed salary to nonexempt employees. The bill states that “payment of a fixed salary to a nonexempt employee shall be deemed
to provide compensation only for the employee’s regular, nonovertime hours, notwithstanding any private agreement to the contrary.”

 

AB 2674 Substantially Modifies Labor Code Section 1198.5 Regarding Employee Rights to Inspect and Copy Personnel Files

On September 30, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 2674 amending Labor Code Section 226 and Labor Code Section 1198.5. Section 226(a) requires employers to maintain copies of worker wage statements and records of deductions for at least three years. AB 2674 clarifies that the term “copy” includes “a duplicate of the itemized statement provided to an employee or a computer-generated record that accurately shows all of the information required by this subdivision.”

Under Section 1198.5, an employee has the right to inspect the personnel records that his or her employer maintains relating to the employee’s performance or to any grievance concerning the employee. AB 2674 provides that employees also have a right to receive a copy of such personnel records. In addition, AB 2674 requires an employer to maintain personnel records for not less than three years after termination of employment.

AB 2674 requires employers to provide a current or former employee, or his or her representative, an opportunity to inspect and receive a copy of the employee’s personnel records within 30 calendar days after the date the employer receives a written request, unless the current or former employee, or his or her representative, and the employer agree in writing to up to a 5-day extension. However, the right to inspect or copy records ceases during the pendency of a lawsuit filed by the employee or former employee against the employer relating to a personnel matter.

AB 2674 allows current or former employees to submit their own written requests (including through a representative) to inspect or receive a copy of the personnel records, or to submit a written request by completing an employer-provided form. An employer- provided form must be made available upon a verbal request to the employee’s supervisor or to the individual designated by the employer to receive requests for the employer-provided form.

An employer is required to comply with only one request per year by a former employee to inspect or receive a copy of his or her personnel records. AB 2674 also provides that an employer is not required to comply with more than 50 requests to inspect and receive a copy of personnel records filed by a representative or representatives of employees in one calendar month.

AB 2674 provides that prior to making the personnel records available for inspection or providing a copy of those records, the employer may redact the name of any nonsupervisory employee contained therein.

AB 2674 provides that Labor Code Section 1198.5 shall not apply with respect to an employee covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement if the agreement provides, among other things, for a procedure for inspection and copying of personnel records.

In the event an employer violates the law, AB 2674 permits a current or former employee or the Labor Commissioner to recover a penalty of $750 from the employer, and would further permit a current or former employee to obtain injunctive relief, as well as costs and attorney’s fees. AB 2674 also provides that a violation of Section 1198.5 constitutes
an infraction. Impossibility of performance, not caused by or resulting from a violation of law, may be asserted as an affirmative defense by an employer in any action alleging a violation of Section 1198.5.

 

AB 2675 Provides for an Exemption for Temporary, Variable Incentive Payments from the Requirements for Written Commission Contracts

AB 2675, which was signed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2012, clarifies that the law requiring written commission contracts (Labor Code Section 2751) does not apply to “temporary, variable incentive payments that increase, but do not decrease, payment under a written contract.”

After the enactment of Section 2751 last year, the California New Car Dealers Association expressed concern regarding certain temporary incentives offered to employees of car dealers. They argued that it would be burdensome for them to have to issue a new written commission plan each and every time such a special incentive is offered. The amendments made by AB 2675 clarify that such temporary and variable incentive payments, which increase (but do not decrease) commission payments, are not considered "commissions" for the limited purpose of the writing requirement of Labor Code Section 2751. Therefore, an employer will not have to issue a new written commission contract every time such a short-term incentive is offered.

 

AB 2677 Clarifies that Certain Employer Payments Do Not Operate To Constitute a Violation of Prevailing Wage Law

California law requires that, except as specified, not less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages may be paid to workers employed on public works projects. Labor Code Section 1773.1 deems per diem wages to include specified employer payments and provides that employer payments are a credit against the obligation to pay the general prevailing rate of per diem wages. Section 1773.1, however, also provides that credits for employer payments do not reduce the obligation to pay the hourly straight time or overtime wages found to be prevailing. AB 2677 amends Section 1773.1 to provide that an increased employer payment contribution that results in a lower hourly straight time or
overtime wage shall not be considered a violation of the applicable prevailing wage determination so long as all of following conditions are met:

(1) The increased employer payment is made pursuant to criteria set forth in a collective bargaining agreement;

(2) The basic hourly rate and increased employer payment are no less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages and the general prevailing rate for holiday and overtime work in the director’s general prevailing wage determination; and

(3) The employer payment contribution is irrevocable unless made in error.

AB 2677 also adds Section 1773.8 to the Labor Code, which provides that an increased employer payment contribution that results in a lower taxable wage shall not be considered a violation of the applicable prevailing wage determination so long as all of the following conditions are met:

(a) The increased employer payment is made pursuant to criteria set forth in a collective bargaining agreement;

(b) The increased employer payment and hourly straight time and overtime wage combined are no less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages; and

(c) The employer payment contribution is irrevocable unless made in error.

This bill was sponsored by the California State Association of Electrical Workers and the Western States Council of Sheet Metal Workers. They stated that many collective bargaining agreements allow members to elect to have a percentage or a set amount deducted from their paycheck and deposited in a supplemental pension account or a health care reserve at their discretion. The sponsors explained that the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has issued opinion letters finding that this practice does not constitute a violation of the prevailing wage as long as the total hourly package equals the correct prevailing wage rule. AB 2677 codifies the DIR opinion letters in order to avoid future misapplication of the statutes.

 

SB 1255 Clarifies When an Employee Is Deemed to Suffer an Injury Due To an Employer’s Failure to Comply with Itemized Wage Statement Requirements Under Labor Code Section 226

On September 30, 2012, Governor Brown signed SB 1255, which amends Labor Code Section 226 to provide that an employee is “deemed to suffer an injury” (which may result in the recovery of actual damages or penalties, costs and attorney’s fees) if the employer fails to provide a wage statement. In addition, AB 1255 provides that an employee is “deemed to suffer an injury” under Section 226 if the employer fails to provide complete and accurate information with respect to all nine items of information required to be included in the wage statement and the employee cannot promptly and easily determine from the wage statement alone one or more of the following:

  • The amount of the gross wages or net wages paid to the employee during the pay period or any of the following information: the total hours worked by the employee, the number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if the employee is paid on a piece-rate basis, all deductions, the dates of the period for which the employee is paid all applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate.
  • Which deductions the employer made from gross wages to determine the net wages paid to the employee during the pay period.
  • The name and address of the employer and, if the employer is a farm labor contractor, the name and address of the legal entity that secured the services of the employer during the pay period.
  • The name of the employee and only the last four digits of his or her social security number or an employee identification number other than a social security number.

For purposes of this law, “promptly and easily determine” means a reasonable person would be able to readily ascertain the information without reference to other documents or information.

In order for an employer to be liable under Section 226, the employee must have suffered an injury “as a result of a knowing and intentional failure” by an employer to comply with the wage statement requirements listed in Section 226. AB 1255 clarifies that a “knowing and intentional failure” does not include an isolated and unintentional payroll error due to a clerical or inadvertent mistake. AB 1255 also provides that “[i]n reviewing for compliance with this section, the factfinder may consider as a relevant factor whether the employer, prior to an alleged violation, has adopted and is in compliance with a set of policies, procedures, and practices that fully comply with this section. 

 

Please note that these summaries are not intended to constitute legal advice.

If you have questions regarding compliance with these new bills, or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.

Transgender and Gender Expression Protection

April 17, 2012

EEOC Ruling Clarifies that Title VII Protection Extends to Transgender Employees and AB 887 Clarifies that Gender, Gender Identity and Gender Expression are Protected Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

 

Transgender Protection Under Title VII

On April 20, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a ruling clarifying that claims for discrimination based on gender identity, change of sex, and/or transgender status are cognizable under Title VII.

The complaint which resulted in the EEOC ruling was instituted by a woman who applied for a position at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (“Bureau”) crime laboratory. At the time she applied for the position, she presented as male, but during the background investigation stage of the application process she informed the Bureau that she was transitioning from male to female. Shortly thereafter, she was notified that the position was no longer available. When she filed her complaint with the Bureau, the Bureau separated her claims into two different claims, one based on sex (female) under Title VII and one based on gender identity stereotyping which the Bureau planned to evaluate using a separate process.

In its ruling, the EEOC stated that regardless of the various descriptions of the discrimination used…based on sex, sex stereotyping, gender transition/change of sex, gender identity, gender identity stereotyping, transgender status…the complainant’s claim of discrimination fell under Title VII as being based on sex. The EEOC concluded that “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on…sex’ and such discrimination therefore violates Title VII.”

 

New California Law Clarifies that Gender, Gender Identity and Gender Expression are Protected Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Employment And Housing Act

As of January 1, 2012, California AB 887 clarified that the term “sex” under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and FEHA includes gender, gender identity and gender expression. In addition, AB 887 requires employers to allow employees to appear and dress consistently with their gender expression. (Under existing law, employers were already required to allow employees to appear and dress consistently with their gender identity).

Companies should review their hiring and employment policies and practices in light of the EEOC ruling and CA AB 887 and make any necessary revisions.

 

Please note that these summaries are not intended to constitute legal advice.

If you have questions regarding compliance with the EEOC ruling, CA AB 887, or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.

Legal Disclaimer

Legal Disclaimer and Notice:
These updates have been prepared by Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Information on this website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.