Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!
Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced with and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.
Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Ladies, most of you may not know that October kicks off Domestic Violence Awareness month. In 1995, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence created several national organizations to help stop domestic violence. Among such organizations are the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Network to End Domestic Violence. These organizations' collaborative efforts have become known as Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP).
DVAP endeavors to support the rights of all women to be able to live in peace and with dignity. They are striving to eliminate violence and all forms of oppression that women face everywhere. DVAP collaborates to educate and distribute resources and ideas relevant to ongoing prevention and awareness of domestic violence. Their efforts though while especially observed in October take place throughout the entire year.
DVAP encourages participation of the entire community in showing social intolerance towards domestic violence. Did you know that around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. If that doesn't hit close enough to home, did you know that nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey.
So in honor of women everywhere who might not be as fortunate to live in peace, come out and support your fellow sisters this month in efforts to banish abuse and domestic violence! Visit http://dvam.vawnet.org/ to find out about events that are going on near you!
*If you are in danger from Domestic Violence Please Call: National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE immediately for further assistance.
Stubble-Free Legs for 10 Year Olds?
I still remember at the tender age of 11 being told I was too young to worry about shaving my legs — but that's not the case today! Young girls wearing short skirts and shorts are all sporting smooth legs. Most of you ladies have heard of Nair — it removes body hair — and the advertisements for Nair say it leaves you feeling clean and confident. Now, while adults recognize that ads often exaggerate the merits of a product, tweens and teens are vulnerable to false expectations. So, what is an appropriate age to target at these ads?
Nair Pretty, a new line by Nair, comes in kiwi and peach scents, and is targeted directly at young girls between the ages of 10 and 15 (even younger than their usual demographic which aims ads at girls as young as 12). A little too young to be worrying about body hair, don't you think? Many girls in this age group don't even buy their own toiletries yet! Stacey Feldman, vice president for marketing at the women's health and personal care division of the Church & Dwight Company, which purchased Nair in 2001, even recognized that “when a girl removes hair for the first time, it's a life-changing moment.”
So, if a depilatory is being portrayed as a sacred ritual that brings young girls to a new stage in life, why rush 10 year old girls to move beyond just being kids? And why push kids to buy into the $95 million depilatory industry?
The new Nair Pretty ad read, “I am a citizen of the world. I am a dreamer. I am fresh. I am so not going to have stubs sticking out of my legs.” More disturbing though is the intro on Nair's homepage: "It's not that you're obsessed or anything, but maybe you've noticed that the hair on your legs (and other parts of your body) is just a little bit thicker and darker than before. Chill. You're growing up ... it's all good." This certainly is NOT something a 10 year old needs to be worrying about!
As adults, we know the statements are only a form of advertising and marketing, which we don't rely on to make our purchasing decisions, but do you think our 10 year old girls could decipher such strategies? Me neither! And unfortunately, claims that Nair Pretty ads are misleading to young girls probably won't hold up in court.
In considering a fraudulent misrepresentation claim, courts recognize that puffing — statements purely assigning value to a product — is not considered material and is thus considered an acceptable form of advertising and marketing. However, if a seller goes beyond the simple assignment of value or expression of opinions and makes statements of facts attributing specific characteristics to a product, those statements can be the basis for a fraudulent misrepresentation claim. Here, the Nair Pretty ads will most likely be considered merely “puffing.”
In the fast-pace, profit-driven world today, Nair is marketing its product to impose social values and encourage kids to get in the habit of removing body hair. Where do we draw the line and tell these companies that their products aren't suitable for young girls who should be experiencing childhood and shouldn't be agonizing about body hair? The depilatory industry will not relinquish anytime soon, so it's up to us moms to just say no.
File “Suits” for Stealing Fashion Ideas — Not So Fast!
Question: “My friend came from Los Angeles to New York to buy clothes she can use to generate ideas in designing her own line of clothing. Can she could get in trouble for stealing ideas?”
Answer: Your concern is a valid one, but you need not be too worried. Your friend should be all right because people borrow ideas all the time! It's a common practice in many industries, including the glamorous fashion world.
Intellectual property laws that govern fashion are aimed at assuring the creators their rights to their original express. At the same, the laws leave room for designers to build off one another's ideas. All creators draw from the work of those who came before, whether that be referring to it, building on it, or poking fun at it; we call this creativity, not piracy.
For example, I can't publish unauthorized copies of, say, the movie “Legally Blonde,” but I'm perfectly free to write a book about an attractive, unorthodox girl who got into a prestigious graduate school out of everyone's expectations and later proved herself to be capable of the challenges. So what if I got the idea from “Legally Blonde”? So what if it reminds readers of the original? The very point of intellectual property law is that they protect only against certain specific kinds of appropriation. This is why intellectual property law is full of careful balances between what's set aside for the owner and what's left in the public domain for the rest of us: The relatively short life of patents; the longer, but finite, life of copyrights; the prohibition on copyrighting facts; the right to make sound-alike recordings.
All of these diminish an intellectual property owner's rights. All let the public use something created by someone else, but all are necessary to maintain a free environment in which creative genius can flourish.
Bottom Line: Your friend can continue the shopping and enjoy those last minute discounts!
Unwrapping the Truth: Quick Tax Rules for Gifts
Question: “My father's sister gave him her car and then a few months later passed away. This was not put in writing, but he registered the car in his name and noted on the N.J. Motor Vehicle forms that he didn't pay anything for the car. N.J. Department of Taxation later sent him a letter saying he has to pay sales tax on the book value of the car or asked that he get a notarized letter from his nephew indicating the car to be a gift so that he won't have to pay sales tax. My question is will my father eventually have to pay a gift tax and is the gift tax more than the sales tax?”
Answer: First of all, don't feel alone because the topic that most people have no clue about is taxation. Which kind of tax applies? When do they apply? How much is being taxed? Which tax form do we fill out? The list goes on and on.
The good news is that in New Jersey, your father will not be required to pay a gift tax on the car. Only four states, Connecticut, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee, impose gift taxes. Following the New Jersey Department of Taxation's advice, your father should get a notarized letter from his nephew to indicate that the car was a gift and thus, exempt from sales tax as well.
In terms of federal gift tax, your father should not worry either. The donor is generally the one responsible for the payment of gift tax unless specific agreements have been made for the donee pay the tax. Gifts are not taxable if they are not more than the annual exclusion for the calendar year and a separate annual exclusion applies to each person to whom you make a gift. Therefore, the year in which your father received the vehicle is crucial. If the vehicle was given to him in 2006 or 2007 and the value of the vehicle was less than $12,000, then the annual exclusion will cover it. However, even if the vehicle was valued at more than $12,000, gift tax should not apply and only a gift tax return must be filed. In this case, gift tax should not apply as long as your father or his sister had not already used up their individual unified credit of $345,800 — and most people don't.
Remember, the donor, not the donee, is primarily responsible for the payment of gift tax so your father should not be subject to taxation of the vehicle. If you have additional questions regarding this topic, you should visit an attorney who specializes in taxation to help you understand and protect your rights. For more information on federal gift tax, see The Internal Revenue Service, available by calling toll free at 1-800-829-1040 or on the Web.
No More Construction! Give Me Back My Beauty Sleep!
How many of you have been woken up in the morning by noisy construction on the streets? How many of you had tried to work in your office but could not concentrate because of the heavy pounding going on outside?
Let's be fair. We can't shut down the construction work that needs to be done around the city so we have to allocate some time during the day for these improvements. But aren't regular business hours enough? I can still hear construction at 8 in the morning on a Saturday and Sunday! The drilling and digging have constantly interrupted our sleep, and the best we can do is to call our city's 311 services system to complain?
In New York City, each borough has its own Office of Permit Management where contractors file applications in the relevant borough for construction permits. Only one person, the project manager, in each borough's Office of Permit Management is in charge of making all permit approvals. The project manager reviews the application, and depending on where, how, and when the construction anticipates on taking place, the hours of work will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
So am I saying that once contractors get their permits, they can make all the noise they want? No. The project manager may decide to revisit a permit if the interference reaches a point of creating nuisance to the public. Nuisance is an interference with the use and enjoyment of your property and you certainly cannot enjoy using your space to sleep when construction is going on at unreasonable hours.
Therefore, to see actual adjustments made in response to your complaints, you need to bring a case to the project manager in your borough or city, showing that the interference is unreasonable and substantial. If the gravity of harm, our lack of beauty sleep in this case, outweighs the social utility, of having, let's say, another luxurious apartment complex built within two months, the interference is unreasonable. In addition, if a person of normal sensitivity in your community would be seriously bothered by the noises, then the interference is also substantial and not merely an act of inconvenience. Ladies, I know you hear me! We don't want to walk around with extra baggage under our eyes!
Bottom Line: Want to get some hours of sleep back on weekends? Rally up some neighbors and let your concerns be heard over the construction!
• Domestic Violence is a Serious, Widespread Social Problem in America: The Facts
• Domestic Violence Awareness Project
• Depilatory Market Moves Far Beyond the Short-Shorts Wearers
• What is Intellectual Property?
• Why Protecting Intellectual Property Rights Matters
• Internal Revenue Service-Federal Gift Tax
• New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
• New York City Department of Transportation
• New York City Department of Buildings
The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of foxnews.com, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.
Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.