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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Supreme Court softens age discrimination protections

The average age of U.S. Supreme Court justices is 69. All have lifetime appointments to the highest court in the land, so it is possible that they are not as concerned with age discrimination as many other older Americans.

According to a recent Forbes article, the justices recently made it more likely that fewer age discrimination claims will be pursued in the nation's courts, even though "age discrimination is widespread, well documented and, sadly, deeply entrenched in the American workplace."

Hospice Firm Settles Medicare Fraud Lawsuit Founded on Kickbacks

Since 1983, Medicare has provided benefits for eligible terminally ill patients under The Medicare Hospice Benefit program, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. The use of these services has increased in recent years, with Medicare reimbursements for hospice care exceeding $15 billion in 2015.

Palliative care under the program is intended only for patients who have six months or less to live. Services are tailored to the individual needs of each patient and are intended to allow terminally ill patients to maintain dignity. Pain management, reducing the impact of symptoms -- as well as spiritual or emotional counseling -- are the goals of the medical protocol, rather than efforts to prolong life.

Allergan settles False Claims Act litigation for $13 million

It is well-known that pharmaceutical companies often provide payments for consulting and promotional speaking to doctors likely to use or prescribe the company's devices or medications. Some critics of the practice consider the payments to be a form of bribery, while others defend the practice as a way for physicians to become familiar with products that can benefit patients.

Pharmaceutical giant Allergan PLC recently settled a whistleblower lawsuit for $13 million. The lawsuit was filed by two ophthalmologists who accused the company of paying physicians for speaking engagements and consulting as a way to induce them to prescribe Allergan products.

Age, gender, race discrimination can happen to anyone

Old sayings are often rooted in truth. "You can't judge a book by its cover" is one of these sayings, and it has been repeated for decades.

The adage comes to mind when reading the story of a plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of race, gender and age. The proverbial "book" in this case is a white man and former manager. Based on stereotype alone, one might think he would be named as a defendant in employment discrimination litigation. The assumption would be incorrect.

$20 million settlement in False Claims Act lawsuit

People who work in accounting and billing are often chided and teased about being numbers-driven, quiet people. Breaking the mold, two women who worked in accounts receivable recently made big legal noise. 

Both women worked for seven years for a firm that supplies in-home oxygen equipment. Together, they filed a lawsuit under the False Claims Act and settled for $20 million, according to a news report. Along with two co-workers, the pair of women will split $11 million from the settlement, the report states.

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.

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