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Cashing Out Gift Cards in California

Cashing Out Gift Cards in California

I was on a road trip recently through the Central Valley of California and stopped in at a Jack In the Box. I forgot where I was heading, but I’m fairly certain it was early morning because I remember ordering a most excellent breakfast burrito along with an absolutely terrible cup of coffee. Burritos and coffee aside, though, I cam across this sign while waiting for my order. Because I’m me, I snapped a photo of it to aid in discussing it with all of you. The California law the sign is citing to is the CA Civil Code and it’s specifically section 1749.5(b)(2) which states that, as of January 1, 2008 ” Notwithstanding paragraph (1), any gift certificate with a cash value of less than ten dollars ($10) is redeemable in cash for its cash value.”   Paragraph (1) of CA Civil Code section 1749.5(b) further states that ” Any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder.“ CA Civil Code section 1749.45(a) defines “gift certificate” to include gift cards as, I believe, most people would normally interpret the term (i.e. a card issued by and usable at a single merchant or retailer). However, section 1749.45(a)‘s definition of “gift certificate” excludes those gift cards “usable with multiple sellers of goods or services” provided that any applicable expiration date is printed on the card. I very rarely use gift cards, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single gift card that can be used at multiple stores before. If you have, leave a comment as I always enjoy learning new things. Section...
California Protections for Employees on Jury Duty

California Protections for Employees on Jury Duty

If you live in California and you’re a US citizen, having to serve on a jury is a fact of life. Sooner or later, you’ll have to do it. Technically, registering to vote doesn’t increase your chance of getting called for jury duty. However, the last 2 times I’ve been called for jury duty have — by pure coincidence, I’m sure — been right after I moved to a different county and updated my voter registration. This post is going to go over some of the applicable law in California when it comes to serving on a state jury (e.g. in Superior Court in California). The post will go over some of my own experience serving on a state jury. I have not yet served on a federal jury before so I’m not going to cover that. Jurors in California state court do get paid for their time when they serve, but it’s a paltry $15.00 per day (see CA Code of Civil Procedure section 215(a)) and it only begins on the second day that they serve. This $15 rate hasn’t changed since 2004. In addition to the pay, jurors are also reimbursed for the miles they drive to and from the courthouse, but that’s only at 34 cents per mile starting on the second day (see CA Code of Civil Procedure section 215(c)). To compare, the IRS reimbursement rate for miles driven was 54.5 cents for 2018. The $15 per day pay poses an obvious problem to two categories of jurors: (1) those living paycheck-to-paycheck, and (2) those who aren’t living paycheck-to-paycheck, but nonetheless still can’t afford to...

California: Service of Summons by Publication

A very common question I encounter is some variant of ‘How do I file a lawsuit against a person if I don’t know where they are?’ I often see this from people who want to file for divorce (in California, divorces must be done in court so a lawsuit must be filed) because they want to get married again and don’t want to commit bigamy. This concern exists these people never got a divorce to end their prior marriage. They simply moved out (or their spouse moved out) and each went on with their lives. Sometimes a year or two passes before the idea of wanting to get married to someone else pops up, but sometimes 10 or more years might have passed and, for instance, people move far away or pass away. In such a situation then, how can this person file a divorce case against their spouse if they haven’t seen their spouse for years? Once filed, the divorce papers have to be served on the spouse and that involves finding the spouse. Somehow. The answer to that question is to do Service by Publication. You might have more commonly heard this described as ‘taking out a newspaper ad’. Most newspapers will have a section where legal notices are posted although it is debatable who or how many people actually look at those ads. I’ve used a divorce scenario to illustrate a situation where service may need to be done via a newspaper ad, but the idea of doing Service by Publication is applicable in California, at least, to a variety of civil lawsuits where serving the...
California Employment Law: Split Shift Premium

California Employment Law: Split Shift Premium

One of my favorite places to go eat in the San Jose area is El Camino Mongolian BBQ. If you’re ever in the Santa Clara, CA area, stop on in. You can mention my name, if you want. (It likely won’t help you, but you can always mention my name. Ahahahahaha… okay, moving on). I was at El Camino Mongolian BBQ recently and snapped the above photo. The owners (Sunny and John) were hiring for kitchen staff. The subject of this blog post is going to be the two time ranges listed for the Kitchen help. If you’ve ever been to a restaurant — and I’m going to assume everyone reading this has — then it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that restaurant workers don’t work a normal 8 hour day. There’s a wave of people for breakfast (assuming the place offers breakfast) and then another wave for lunch and then another wave for dinner. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to shut down in the mid-afternoon (e.g. 3 PM to 5 PM) in between lunch and dinner. In California, a schedule involving a shut down period like this is called a Split Shift. Depending on their hourly wage, an employee may be entitled to additional compensation if they have to work a Split Shift. The governing law here is actually not going to be in a statute (e.g. California Labor Code) or a case, but rather it’s going to be in California regulations. These regulations are codified in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations from sections 11010 to 11170. If you see references such as “8...

Enforcement of California Powers of Attorney (CA Probate Code section 4406)

A while back, I put a video out on my Youtube channel describing what a Power of Attorney (POA) is and what it can do for you. Here it is, in case you missed it. I also posted previously on this blog about what happens to a Power of Attorney in California when you get divorced and your spouse is your POA agent. In this post, I’m going to go over what happens when a POA that has been properly signed is, nonetheless, not recognized. For sake of illustration, let’s say that your elderly mother has signed a POA naming you as her agent. Your mom wants you to manage her money (e.g. pay her bills) and to do that, you need to access her bank accounts, but your mom’s bank is refusing to cooperate with you. What do you do? The California statute that applies here is Section 4406 of the California Probate Code. One important thing to recognize first, though, is that 4406 only applies to what are called “Uniform Statutory Powers of Attorney”. What this basically means is that 4406 doesn’t apply to any random POA that gets written up, even if it’s written up properly. 4406 only applies to the specific POA that is explicitly specified in the California Probate Code (specifically, section 4401). If you have a Uniform Statutory Power of Attorney in California and it’s been properly signed by the principal (see CA Probate Code section 4121) and a third-party (e.g. a bank, like in this hypothetical) is refusing to honor it, 4406 provides for the following: The agent can sue the third-party...
California Divorce and Powers of Attorney

California Divorce and Powers of Attorney

I had a post before about what happens in California to your will after you get divorced. Many people have their spouses named in their will in some way (e.g. to be executor). In nearly all cases, I would imagine you don’t want your ex-spouse to have control over your estate when you’ve died. Today, though, I’m going to go over a similar question: what happens in California to your Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney document after you’ve gotten divorced? As with wills, many people name their spouses as their power of attorney agent or durable power of attorney agent and, as with divorces, most people likely don’t want their ex-spouses having control over them once the divorce is finally over. The relevant law here is going to be Section 4154 of the California Probate Code, section (a) of which states: “If after executing a power of attorney the principal’s marriage to the attorney-in-fact is dissolved or annulled, the principal’s designation of the former spouse as attorney-in-fact is revoked.” Section 4154(b) then goes on to say that if divorce or annulment of the marriage was the only reason why the power of attorney was revoked, then remarriage of the principal and attorney-in-fact will reinstate the power of attorney and the attorney-in-fact’s authority under it. If, however, the power of attorney was revoked for other reasons too and the principal and attorney-in-fact just happened to get divorced at the same time, then them remarrying does not reinstate the power of attorney and the attorney-in-fact’s authority. If you compare what happens to a will under section 6122 of...