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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Former University of Wisconsin professor condemned for "toxic" sexual harassment

According to University of Wisconsin students and staff, a professor engaged in years of sexual harassment that included unwanted touching, staring and suggestive comments. Professor Harvey Jacobs was the epicenter of "toxic" behavior within the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, according to a university investigation.

A recent Wisconsin State Journal article notes that university investigators determined that Jacobs, who retired in May, left behind a "legacy of sexism" in a department that allowed a "boys will be boys mentality."

Federal judge: Wisconsin woman's FMLA lawsuit can proceed

A Wisconsin woman who worked as an administrative assistant played by the rules of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). She notified her employer that after her one-year anniversary at the firm that would make her FMLA eligible, she would have surgery to repair an old Achilles injury. Unfortunately, her employer tried to skirt the rules by informing her that she would instead be placed on unpaid medical leave. 

The employee tried to make the best of the situation. She spoke to the company's HR coordinator who assured her that if she moved the surgery up to a date before she became FMLA eligible, she'd be granted leave regardless and her job would be held for her. Despite the assurances, when push came to shove, the woman was denied leave and someone else was hired to take her position.

Large dialysis provider settles whistleblower claim for $270M

Commentators believe that many health care companies and medical providers exaggerate the severity of medical conditions of patients who receive Medicare benefits -- including participants of Medicare Advantage Plans - to increase company profits. Health care fraud depletes resources, and taxpayer money, effectively harming taxpayers and patients alike. Federal law allows individuals with knowledge of fraudulent practices to bring forth lawsuits on behalf of the government to recover taxpayer money that is obtained through fraudulent practices related to government programs or contracts.

The Department of Justice says that HealthCare Partners Holdings LLC, which is now a division of the well-known dialysis company, DaVita Inc., has agreed to settle a whistleblower lawsuit for $270 million. The settlement may be the largest to date among False Claims Act cases related to Medicare Advantage plans. The company does not admit any fault in settling the allegations. However, taxpayers and patients benefit when whistleblower cases recover funds to support our health care systems.

Lawsuit accuses Walker administration of wrongful discharge, more

Days ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was narrowly defeated in a bruising bid for re-election. But the two-term governor's battles are not over, as a former state employee alleges in a filed lawsuit that she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for speaking out against sexual harassment.

The former state Department of Children and Families civil service employee and current Milwaukee County Board supervisor also claims she was fired for refusing to provide false data and for speaking out against a Walker political ally.

Ex-coach cites "smoking gun" voicemail in age discrimination suit

Though it's early in the new season, the Milwaukee Bucks are off to a surprisingly good start, sitting atop the NBA's Central Division. The Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the Bucks' fiercest rivals, occupies the division cellar, however.

The Cavs' woes mounted a few days ago when former assistant coach Jim Boylan, 62, filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the organization, claiming that the team did not pick up the option in his employment contract because it wanted someone younger in that role.

Whistleblower in mortgage fraud lawsuit to receive $1.98M

The federal government has vast resources, but detecting fraud in programs and contracts is no easy task in the normal course of business. The False Claims Act (which was initially enacted during the President Lincoln years) allows private individuals to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government to expose fraud and recover unlawfully obtained taxpayer money. Whistleblowers receive a percentage of any verdict or settlement that arises from the lawsuit.

Businesses in a wide variety of industries engage in transactions that are tied to government contracts or government programs. The housing market is a vital part of the American dream. Most people in Wisconsin are aware of the meltdown in the housing market in 2008. The Federal Housing Administration backs many mortgage loans across the nation - that backing is funded through taxpayer dollars. Fraud in the mortgage industry harms homeowners and taxpayers alike.

A year of disability discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently closed out its fiscal year, giving observers an opportunity to look back and assess the enforcement areas in which the EEOC was most active over the past 12 months and to consider where it might be going in the next year.

A recent article about the federal agency pointed out that it was particularly aggressive in protecting workers from employer disability discrimination. One of the employers targeted was a retailer with several outlets in the Milwaukee area: Bath & Body Works.

Pilot fired for reporting safety issues fights back and wins

When someone is in a serious accident and needs to be flown to a Milwaukee hospital by air ambulance, it's likely that one of the last things on their mind is whether the aircraft is sound or not. But medical aircraft are like all other planes and helicopters: they need to be regularly maintained and inspected to ensure safety.

Yet an Alaska company eager to hide safety issues with its aircraft fired a pilot who reported the problems to the Federal Aviation Administration. A federal judge recently awarded the Anchorage man about $750,000 in his employment law claim.

Former University of Wisconsin student sues for sexual harassment

Less than a hundred miles north of Milwaukee sits one the 26 campuses in the University of Wisconsin system. The Oshkosh satellite was recently hit with news that a former student has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Regents and a former art professor who the school determined had sexually harassed her.

The lawsuit says that both the University of Wisconsin system and former professor violated her Title IX and Constitutional rights. The school “acted with deliberate indifference” to the professor’s “sexual harassment of the plaintiff,” the suit filed in U.S. District Court states.

Whistleblower gets $5.4 million in lawsuit settlement

Surrounded by mountains and forest, Kalispell, Montana, is the gateway to one of the nation’s natural wonders: Glacier National Park. The beautiful scenery is a backdrop to an ugly scandal focused on the 138-bed hospital that takes its name from the town. The medical center has been roiled by charges that physicians there took illegal kickbacks and defrauded the federal government.

Kalispell Regional Healthcare recently agreed to pay $24 million to settle the whistleblower lawsuit that blew the lid off of the scheme. According a news source, it’s the largest False Claims Act recovery in Montana’s history.

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