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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Despite court ruling, LGBT workplace rights secure in Wisconsin

Thirty-five years ago, Wisconsin became the very first state to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The law signed by Gov. Lee S. Dreyfus made it unlawful for an employer in our state to discriminate against you in matters such as hiring, firing, promotions and raises.

Though LGBT rights are protected, those rights are not as clearly secured elsewhere. Take, for example, Mississippi, where a law allows merchants and government workers to deny services to same-sex couples. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that the law can stand, though an appeal of the decision is expected.

What is a Qui Tam Lawsuit? And who benefits?

Office workers in the pharmaceutical industry, employees of companies that do business with the government - and more and more frequently today billing professionals, nurses or other healthcare workers - may notice anomalies or excesses in bills sent to the United States government. Medicaid and Medicare provide substantial sums of money as reimbursement to hospitals, doctor's offices, clinics and other healthcare resources each year.

As we have discussed in February, the health care industry leads all sectors in fraud claims under the federal False Claims Act. In general, it is workers who bring evidence of fraud to light in these types of issues. The False Claims Act dates back to the Civil War when the government grew concerned about receiving shoddy products from entrepreneurs. The False Claims Act was created to root out fraud in government contracts. 

Court: ADA, retaliation lawsuit to move forward

The problems began in the summer of 2012 when inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed up for an unannounced inspection of a mail sorting business. They found asbestos-related violations that resulted in a fine of more than $8,000. Management apparently suspected that a handyman-machine operator there had filed a report with the federal agency and triggered the investigation.

Later that year, the employee needed to have the battery on his pacemaker replaced. Unfortunately, he developed an infection as a result of the procedure and had to ask for a 12-week leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Fired employee prevails in disability discrimination claim

If you leave Milwaukee at noon and drove southwest until dinner time or so, you would arrive in East St. Louis. That is where a U.S. District Court recently affirmed a judgment that Madison County must pay more than $650,000 in damages in a disability discrimination case.

The county had asked the court for a new trial or reduced award in a lawsuit filed by a former county comptroller who claimed that she had been fired because of a debilitating illness.

Death of Fox News founder doesn't bury discrimination lawsuits

For observers of Fox News who thought the recent death of founder Roger Ailes might stem the tide of litigation that has engulfed the network, the news is in: his passing has not changed much on that front. According to recent reports, three new lawsuits were filed just days after the death of the 77-year-old.

An attorney who represents nearly two dozen current or former Fox News employees suing the network, said Ailes wasn't a defendant if any of the actions. He told CBS that most of the suits involve claims of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, gender or race, as well as workplace retaliation.

Duke University faces whistleblower suit related to grant money

A former analyst at Duke University says in a federal lawsuit that the institution and faculty members falsified research to unlawfully obtain federal grants to conduct medical research. In the recent whistleblower claim against Duke University, the whistleblower says that a researcher manipulated research results and data to obtain up to $200 million in federal grant money from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental protection agency. Included in the lawsuit are University officials, who the whistleblower says acted negligently in supervising the research faculty member.

Duke Retracts Research Conducted By Faculty Member

Lawsuit: Wal-Mart discriminates against pregnant workers

There are a number of Wal-Mart stores in and around the Milwaukee metro area. The nation's largest retailer was recently named in a proposed class action lawsuit filed by two former employees alleging the chain of treating pregnant workers as “second-class citizens.” The pregnant workers were denied requests to climbing on ladders, heavy lifting and other potentially risky tasks.

The women say that until three years ago, it was Wal-Mart policy to deny pregnant workers the same accommodations as workers with disabilities.

A police officer who refuses to give up

Sometimes it might feel as if virtually all major racial and gender barriers have been hurdled. But there remain boardrooms, clubs, companies and even cities where cultural walls and challenges still stand tall.

We read recently of a police officer whose trailblazing in a Detroit suburb was met with hostility. The officer said that when she was hired in Warren in 2006, she was the first African American to join the city's police force. She recently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court stating that several people in the department discriminated against her on the basis of gender and race and that officials did nothing to stop it despite her complaints.

Survey: Many workers can’t afford family or medical leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act has been around nearly a quarter of a century, helping Americans take care of important medical issues and loved ones without fear of losing their jobs. The law's benefits are sometimes taken for granted, but a new study suggests that low-income workers are often unable to take advantage of FMLA's benefits or are uncomfortable doing so.

The Pew Research Center Study found that nearly two-thirds of American workers have taken family or medical leave -- or are very likely to do so at some point. However, another 16 percent said that they have had circumstances arise in the past two years in which a leave would have been nice, but that they didn't do so. For low-income workers, the number who declined to use FMLA rose to 30 percent.

Labor law enforcers charged with violating labor laws

If you have about 10 hours of free time and a tankful of gas, you could drive west of Milwaukee on a tour of the upper Midwest. You would get to see much of central Wisconsin and southern Minnesota before arriving in South Dakota. The Mount Rushmore State is the site of an interesting employment law dispute between a former employee and the state department that enforces employment law in South Dakota.

The former veterans' representative for the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation says his supervisor faked his resignation to force him out after he asked for sick leave. The former employee is a disabled combat veteran who charges the state agency with violating the labor laws it is supposed to uphold.

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