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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Whistleblower lawsuit is a warning to wholesalers and retailers

Even if you are not directly responsible for breaking federal law in a scheme to avoid import duties, you might find yourself under the microscope of prosecutors. That is one of the takeaways from the recently announced settlement of a whistleblower lawsuit against a clothing wholesaler.

What makes the settlement noteworthy is that the wholesaler was not responsible for filing customs documents or paying import duties. The clothing importer also had those obligations. Yet a lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act against the wholesaler recently resulted in a $1 million settlement in what could well be a harbinger of things to come.

Wisconsin settled harassment claims, but kept supervisor on job

Last year, Wisconsin officials agreed to settle claims by a female state prison employee who said her supervisor kissed her, mistreated her and then fired her. The state then allowed the Racine Correctional Institution supervisor to stay in her job.

Several other women who worked there also lodged complaints about the supervisor, alleging that they endured sexual harassment, and in some cases, suffered retaliation for reporting the harassment, according to documents filed in federal court in Milwaukee.

Pharmacist awarded more than $9 million in whistleblower lawsuit

Kmart Corp. has agreed to settle a health care fraud lawsuit that alleged the big-box retailer overcharged state and federal health care programs for prescription medications. The case came to light after a pharmacist noted discrepancies in what the pharmacy chain charged Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare for generic drugs. For his involvement in coming forward with the lawsuit, the pharmacist will receive $9.3 million of the settlement. That is 29 percent of the $32.3 million overall, according to NBC News.

The lawsuit was filed under the "qui tam" provision of the False Claims Act. As we have discussed, federal law allows private citizens to initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the government when there is evidence of fraud in government contracts. The health care industry, in all of its wide-ranging aspects including pharmaceutical services, continues to face a large number of federal whistleblower claims. These lawsuits allow the government to recover taxpayer money obtained through fraudulent billing practices.

New tax law creates, then removes medical leave benefit

Much of Milwaukee's news coverage over the last few weeks of the year revolved around the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The bill was introduced on Nov. 2 by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and others and signed into law on Dec. 22.

The hotly debated law made sweeping changes to corporate and individual taxation. While some aspects of the proposal were widely publicized and discussed, one aspect received little attention: the TCJA created a new tax credit for employers who pay wages for family leave or medical leave. The new credit ranges from 12.5 percent to 25 percent, according to news outlets.

Kmart whistleblower to receive $9.3 million in settlement

Kmart's financial struggles over the past few years have been well publicized. The retail outlet has closed hundreds of stores, with 45 more scheduled to lock their doors in early 2018. (According to the retailer’s website, it currently has 8 Wisconsin stores, including one a few miles south of Milwaukee.) So it's understandable that executives looked for ways to increase income for the chain.

One revenue-enhancer has come to a stop for the once-formidable retailer, however. Kmart Corp. has agreed to pay more than $32 million to settle claims that its pharmacies overbilled Medicare and Medicaid for generic drugs, the Department of Justice said. The whistleblower lawsuit stated that Kmart failed to report discounted drug prices to federal and state health care programs.

ER doctors blow the whistle on health care fraud

The legal journey began when two emergency room doctors became aware of a scheme by a major hospital chain and a pair of physicians groups to defraud taxpayers of millions of dollars. Though it is never easy to buck the system, the two doctors listened to their consciences and filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the physicians groups.

The odyssey ended a few days ago when the groups agreed to pay more than $33 million to the federal government and state of North Carolina. The two whistleblowers will share more than $6 million from the settlement.

The best idea for ending sexual harassment in the workplace

Milwaukee news media has over the past couple of months contained story after story of powerful men whose successful careers in politics, media and business have been derailed by allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of unacceptable misconduct.

The Washington Post recently asked 16 leaders for their one best idea on how to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. Because the article is a long one, we're going to summarize some of its points that we found key.

Social Security fraudster captured in Honduras

Social Security Disability is one of the nation's most important safety nets, offering financial assistance and medical care to workers who are prevented from continuing their careers by injury or illness. When someone defrauds the Social Security Disability benefits system, it hurts all of us, but most especially taxpayers and those with disabilities.

A man who defrauded the system of more than a half-billion dollars and then fled the U.S. has been captured in Honduras. He is to be returned to this country to begin serving a 12-year prison sentence.

Readying company leave policies for 2018

We all have our little holiday rituals. Some of us bake cookies to share over holiday meals. Others spend an inordinate amount of time wrapping presents so that they look just so, while still others put real time into thinking about the New Year's resolutions that they will make and break.

At the company where you work, it is likely that people in the HR department are going through an annual end-of-the-year ritual, too. They're readying updates to the employee handbook and company policy that will position the firm for 2018. One update a human resources publication urges employers to make is to end discrimination based on gender in family leave.

SCOTUS takes on religious liberty case

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing a case this week that will undoubtedly have a major impact on Americans for years to come. The case pits the interests of a gay couple against the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for the men.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Colorado's Masterpiece Cakeshop said he believes God has decreed that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman. David Mullins and Charlie Craig say that Phillips' refusal to make a cake to celebrate their wedding is unacceptable discrimination.

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