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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Sanofi accused of firing paralegal whistleblower

A recent former paralegal for Sanofi SA, a French drug maker, claims that she was fired after objecting to an alleged bribing strategy to sell more insulin medications in the United States. Drug manufacturer employees in Wisconsin might have heard about the reportedly illegal activity.

The lawsuit claims that the paralegal's role in the diabetes division consisted of approving vendor contracts and ensuring that they meet federal health care legislation. It also states that Sanofi, the now former CEO and more than 10 executives paid consultants to persuade pharmacists to fill generic insulin prescriptions with its brand-name insulin instead of insulin from its competitor Novo Nordisk.

Intermittent leave and reduced schedules under the FMLA

Wisconsin workers who are covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 may be eligible for leave under certain circumstances. For example, if certain requirements are met, a worker may be able to seek a reduced schedule or intermittent leave without fear of retaliation if the worker or the workers family suffers from certain medical conditions.

In order to have the flexibility needed to be able to attend regular doctor's appointments, workers may be able to take intermittent leave. Employees who need recovery time may also request to work on a reduced schedule. Such leave must be medically necessary for it to qualify under the provisions of the FMLA. In situations of medical necessity, prior employer approval is not required. However, if such leave is taken in order for care needed because of the birth, adoption or foster care needs of a child, employees must first seek prior employer approval for the intermittent leave or requested reduced schedule.

What is the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act was originally instituted during the Civil War to protect the Union Army from malicious military contractors and has been amended many times since. Any person may file an action under the FCA, and Wisconsin residents dealing with business that involve the government or an agency that works with the government may benefit from being familiar with its basic principles.

The FCA comes into play whenever a person knowingly submits a false claim to the government or related agency seeking money, property or approval of certain actions. It must be shown that the person knew or reasonably should have known that the claim was false when they filed and showed deliberate ignorance or disregard for the truth. The liabilities for a false claim are outlined in general terms. They include a payment of penalties and fines in excess of the cost of damages sustained by the government.

What is long-term disability insurance?

Workers in Wisconsin may have questions about long-term disability insurance. Many employers offer this type of insurance as an optional benefit that workers can purchase through their employment. Many workers forgo this insurance, especially those that are younger who may feel that it is unlikely they will become disabled. However, choosing to purchase this type of insurance may provide some help to many people.

Although young workers tend to forgo long-term disability insurance, studies have shown that one in four will suffer a disabling condition at some point. When a disabling condition lasts longer than the short term disability period of three to six months, long term disability insurance will kick in.

Wisconsin workers' rights regarding verbal abuse

The odds of being on the receiving end of verbal abuse in the workplace have been increasing. A report by the U.S. Workforce Bullying Institute in 2010 showed that 35 percent of the workers involved in their study said that they had experienced abuse during the performance of their job.

Verbal abuse is the most common type of abuse. It is something that becomes especially challenging for anyone when it is perpetrated by a supervisor, co-worker or anyone else on the job. It is the responsibility of business owners to recognize signs of verbal abuse in the workplace and handle it as quickly as possible. Knowing what to look for can be difficult since often an abuser is popular and charming when he or she is not being abusive.

Can an employer request a medical exam?

Wisconsin employers are prohibited by state and federal law from discriminating against employees and prospective employees based on disability. Disability discrimination is covered by the Rehabilitation Act or the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, as well as by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

With regard to medical exams, the law imposes strict limits on the actions of employers. For example, employers are prohibited from requiring a medical examination as part of the job application process. They may not ask medical questions or require a prospective employee to disclose a disability prior to extending a job offer. An employer cannot ask an applicant if he or she has a disability or inquire about the nature of a disability.

Protection against disability discrimination at work

The Fair Employment Law in Wisconsin prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee due to his or her disability. This law applies to almost all public and private companies regardless of how many employees it has. Furthermore, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act provides protection from disability discrimination to employees working for companies with more than 15 employees.

Discrimination could take the form of refusing to hire a worker due to a disability or using that person's disability to determine his or her pay. Other forms of discrimination could include the failure to offer proper training or deciding to terminate an employee because of his or her disability. Furthermore, employers may not retaliate against an employee who asserts his or her rights under either law.

Worker protections under FMLA

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, qualified employees in Wisconsin may take unpaid leave in certain situations. Employers are not allowed to take any action that may abridge, deny or otherwise make it not possible for an employee to take leave if they are eligible to do so. Furthermore, employers are not allowed to take any type of retaliatory action against any employee who exercises his or her rights under the act.

Federal law dictates who is and who is not an eligible employee under the FMLA. If an employer has more than 50 employees, an employee may be eligible for protection under FMLA. Additionally, that employee must have worked at the company for 20 workweeks during the current or proceeding calendar year. Employers may be federal agencies or they may be in the private sector.

What are the requirements for the FMLA?

Employers in Wisconsin with 50 or more employees are required by state and federal law to grant their employees medical leave in certain situations. The Family and Medical Leave Act was passed by Congress in 1993, and the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act added to and amended certain provisions of the federal law.

Under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act, workers are entitled to six weeks of leave when a child is born or adopted and two weeks of leave for the care of the child. Workers may also take two weeks of leave when they are seriously ill or to care for a seriously ill spouse, domestic partner, parent or parent of a domestic partner. However, the Wisconsin law caps the amount of leave taken by a worker annually at eight weeks while the federal law provides for up to 12 weeks of leave.

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