We often discuss the fact that employers in Wisconsin are prohibited by law from retaliating against employees who report wrongdoing, such as discrimination or harassment. Federal employees have very specific legal protections in this regard. The Whistleblower Protection Act, which was passed 1989, offers protections to federal employees who report the misconduct of the agencies they work for, allowing them to obtain compensation if they are retaliated against.
We discuss the federal False Claims Act quite a bit in this Milwaukee Employment Law Blog. The False Claims Act allows citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government against individuals and organizations that are defrauding the government. The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act allows these whistle-blowers to share in any financial recovery that results from the lawsuit. The False Claims Act is a very important federal statute, and Congress has been pushing states to enact similar state false claims laws, too.
Wisconsin residents should be able to trust that their doctors are making decisions about their health care based on knowledge and expertise, not bribes or profits. This is why it is illegal for medical companies to provide hospitals or doctors with kickbacks for using or prescribing their products--doctors should make decisions based on the patient's needs, not undue influences.
Back in February in this Milwaukee Employment Law Blog, we wrote about the U.S. Justice Department joining in the whistle-blower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong. This week, the Justice Department made it official and filed a formal complaint against the disgraced champion cyclist. The lawsuit also targets the team owners.
One very important right of workers here in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. is the right to voice workplace safety concerns without the fear of retaliation. Employees need to be able to express their concerns about workplace hazards and safety threats so that the employer, or authorities, can be aware of any issues that may endanger workers or patrons.
Basketball fans and non-basketball fans alike in Wisconsin heard this week that Rutgers University fired its basketball coach, Mike Rice, after a video surfaced showing the coach mistreating players.
When an employee in Wisconsin, or anywhere in the country, has knowledge that his or her employer is engaging in illegal activities, the employee has the right to become a whistle-blower by alerting the authorities. In many cases, whistle-blowers are then entitled to a portion of any resulting financial settlement. However, it is risky to become a whistle-blower, because the employer might choose to illegally retaliate by terminating the person from the company. This is why it is important to seek legal counsel when filing a whistle-blower claim.
Late last month after Lance Armstrong admitted to the public that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, we discussed whether that confession would affect a pending whistle-blower lawsuit against the athlete. The U.S. Justice Department has now decided to join that lawsuit, and more than $90 million may be at stake.
When residents of Wisconsin seek medical advice or care, it is important that they can trust their doctors. Trusting one's physician means believing that he or she will make treatment recommendations based on knowledge and expertise. The news has been filled with stories lately of third-parties--such as pharmaceutical companies--clouding this doctor-patient relationship by offering kickbacks to doctors who help sell their products.
Now that Lance Armstrong has reportedly come clean to the public about using performance-enhancing drugs, there is much speculation about the legal repercussions. Armstrong's confession is in contrast to statements he has made under oath and to lawsuits he's won against those who tried to out him in the past. While it is unclear what may now become of those cases, Armstrong's recent admission may put fire under the U.S. government to join a whistle-blower lawsuit against him.