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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Whistleblower claims company retaliated against her

People naturally don't like to be betrayed. This is why some companies view a whistleblower as a traitor and as being untrustworthy. However, if a company retaliates against a worker for blowing the whistle on the company's unethical practices, then the employee may feel betrayed by a company he or she initially thought was upstanding. It is unlawful for employers in Wisconsin to treat employees badly simply because they spoke up about potentially unethical or illegal issues at the workplace.

One woman in a recent out-of-state case said she was retaliated against after voicing her concerns about a Veterans Affairs contractor. She then sued the company. Her lawsuit with the company has since been settled, authorities said.

2 whistleblower suits filed after employees claim retaliation

People naturally think that if they do good deeds, they will be rewarded. Meanwhile, those who do bad deeds should be punished. However, things don't always work like this in Wisconsin. A whistleblower may feel as though he or she is committing a good act in society by calling attention to an immoral or unethical situation. In reality, rewarding the whistleblower likely is the farthest thing from the mind of an employer who is the subject of the whistleblowing situation.

In a recent out-of-state case, an individual filed a lawsuit against a town due to a situation involving the police department. This is actually the second suit that has been brought against the municipality. In the first case, a former female dispatcher who was fired was awarded $25,000 after suing for breach of contract and whistleblower retaliation.

Whistleblower awarded $700K after losing job

People who choose to speak up about the wrongs they witness at work can get a wide range of nicknames. Sometimes, they're called snoops, and other times, they're labeled as snitches or traitors. However, if a whistleblower voices concerns about unfair and illegal practices that can cause harm, his or her efforts may be looked upon positively by others. It is illegal to mistreat workers who have chosen to be whistleblowers in Wisconsin.

In an out-of-state case, a woman recently was fired for whistleblowing. The woman, who was the leader of a state ethics commission, was promoting the need to investigate the state governor's campaign expenditures. After calling for this investigation of the individual's financial disclosures and reports, her salary was trimmed significantly, she said.

Whistleblower suit claims school retaliated against employees

Some people have such a strong moral compass that they feel obligated to speak up when they observe a wrong being perpetrated in a Wisconsin workplace. An employer may try to get back at a whistleblower employee, either by trimming his or her salary or even terminating the worker. Retaliation allegedly occurred in another state recently due to a decision of two whistleblowers to raise concerns about the practices taking place at a charter school.

Two teachers were involved, one currently working for the charter school and another who previously worked there. They claimed that the school had failed to abide by required procedures regarding the reporting of child abuse allegations as well as with regard to a dangerous field trip to a foreign country. The two filed a lawsuit, claiming that they experienced retaliation for bringing these concerns to light.

Wisconsin long-term disability can help incapacitated workers

When people are working at a company in Wisconsin, they often focus primarily on their biweekly paychecks, paying less attention to fringe benefits such as long-term disability insurance. However, when an emergency occurs, this particular "benefit" can immediately become an absolute need -- one for which employees are grateful. If a worker's long-term disability claim is rejected by the insurance company, the individual certainly has the right to challenge the decision in order to seek any benefits to which he or she may be entitled in Wisconsin.

Understandably, a disability can place financial pressure on a family. A person's chance of becoming disabled for half a year or longer is much higher than his or her chance of dying -- if he or she is under the age of 65. Long-term disability offers the benefit of providing incapacitated employees with financial assistance when they need it the most.

Whistleblower files suit against university after being fired

A former university employee recently filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the school for which he previously worked. He claimed that his employer terminated him in response to his decision to report misconduct that the president of the institution was accused of being involved in. A whistleblower who feels that he or she has been wronged by an employer certainly has the right to seek justice in Wisconsin.

In this out-of-state case, the former university employee was a chief financial officer at the school. The school actually just lost a wrongful firing case and had to pay more than $3 million to a previous employee. He said the school fired him after he expressed concerns about how the president was having a personal relationship with a worker who was hired and promoted based on a fake resume.

Whistleblower may be denied training opportunities in Wisconsin

Doing good technically should result in a reward, according to the law of karma. However, in the Wisconsin workplace, doing the right thing by confessing an employer's illegal behavior to the appropriate authorities might actually result in a punishment, such as a termination. A whistleblower in this case may become angry and be discouraged from ever being honest about bad company practices again, but whistleblower protections exist to ensure that these individuals indeed are rewarded rather than face unjust discipline for their actions.

A recent report showed that about 40 percent of workers who claim that whistleblower retaliation in the federal workforce occurs in the form of lost training opportunities. In other words, companies deny them the chance to get the training they need to advance their career. In addition, only 50 percent of employees said they were happy with the training opportunities afforded them.

Social Security disability helps those with cancers, disorders

People who have serious mental or physical disabilities may be unable to retain their jobs. This can be devastating to someone in Wisconsin who prefers to work and maintain his or her independence for as long as possible. Fortunately, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can help those with legitimate disabilities to continue to afford their regular expenses and thus not fear losing their homes and/or other basic necessities.

With World Health Day coming up on April 7, now is an ideal time to call attention to the Social Security Administration's focus on caring for people with health needs on a daily basis. For instance, the SSA recently added 25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions, which are health conditions for which the program will accelerate the disability process. These conditions include disorders that negatively impact the immune or neurological system, for instance.

District violates whistleblower act, must pay nearly $1 million

Being a "tattletale" on the playground as a child may cause the young person to be ridiculed by his or her peers. Being a "tattletale" in the workplace as an adult may cause a person to experience more than just ridicule -- it could get the individual fired. Still, protections are in place for a person who ends up being a whistleblower in Wisconsin because public safety is considered more important than a company's bottom line. One female whistleblower recently received more than $1 million after she was reportedly wronged by her employer in one out-of-state case.

The woman was an administrator for a school district, which terminated her in 2011. The situation occurred when the district charged that she did not appropriately use nearly $90,000 in taxpayer dollars, partly to fund an affair with a retired superintendent. The district ended up terminating her; she claimed that the move really was intended to deter her from testifying in a suit filed by another school district over a telecommunications program that she led.

Social Security Disability system not perfect

Many American workers who pay Social Security taxes often imagine their dollars going toward their future retirement payments. However, these tax dollars are essential for also funding disability payments for those who are mentally or physically incapacitated in Wisconsin. The issue is that the current system for Social Security Disability is not perfect, and remedies that have been proposed in light of the situation do not appear to adequately and fairly solve problems with the system.

New rules would make it mandatory for disability insurance applicants to provide all information related to their health. The problem is that such information could actually harm their chances of acquiring the benefits they so desperately need. One option for addressing this issue is to simply have the court select a neutral third party.

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