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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Whistleblower ignores death threat, reports fraud and prevails

We don't know where being burned alive ranks on the list of worst possible ways to go, but it must be near or at the top. Far from Milwaukee, a mortuary worker was threatened with being cremated alive if he revealed ongoing fraud committed by his employer.

A judge recently ruled in a whistleblower lawsuit that the owner of Abanks Mortuary and Crematory must pay $15 million. Of that sum, the man who blew the whistle on fraud will receive $4 million, according to a news report.

DOJ announces new task force to fight the opioid epidemic

The opioid crisis continues to make headlines - and government officials continue to take note. In late February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government is stepping up its efforts to attack the opioid epidemic through the Department of Justice Prescription Interdiction and Litigation Task Force.  The unit will use both civil and criminal legal mechanisms to gain better control over opioid prescription abuse.

The False Claims Act is one resource to fight the crisis

Milwaukee stands with Madison, others on local employment law

On one side is the city of Milwaukee, along with the city of Madison, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Dane County and a number of labor unions and workers' rights organizations. On the other side are business lobbyists including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Bankers Association.

The two sides are battling over a proposed law that would stop Wisconsin cities and counties from enforcing their own employment laws that involve wages, hours, benefits and discrimination in the workplace.

Wisconsin doctor prevails in battle over non-compete clause

The message at the top of a recent Milwaukee County Circuit Court decision is straightforward: “the Court finds the non-compete provision (in a Wisconsin doctor’s contract) unenforceable.”

Dr. Nikki Allen and her former employer, Aurora Health Care, Inc., disagreed over terms of her contract. Allen, a board-certified family physician, asked the court to declare the non-compete clause in the contract with Aurora void. She said the clause is overly broad and improperly restricts where, when and how she can practice medicine. Aurora insisted in court that the non-compete is narrow and necessary because of all the time and resources the company had devoted to expanding Allen’s client base.

Whistleblower lawsuit involving unnecessary dental treatment for children settles

Several former employees of a chain of dental clinics brought forward evidence that the clinics were performing unnecessary dental procedures on children and billing Medicaid for the services. The whistleblowers filed five lawsuits under the False Claims Act to recover taxpayer money that was fraudulently obtained through an allegedly unlawful incentive plan, according to a statement from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The whistleblowers say that the dental management company essentially set up a quota scheme and associated incentive plan to increase the use of procedures and boost revenues. Dentists were rewarded for unnecessarily extracting teeth, performing baby root canal procedures, providing stainless steel caps for children, and providing other unnecessary dental procedures for children according to the lawsuit. 

Critical errors in Wisconsin man's FMLA request

We read recently in a publication for Human Resources professionals a headline that was apparently intended to poke a little fun at a Wisconsin worker. The man had requested leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and been denied and fired. Here's the headline that ran in HR Morning: "Can an employee take FMLA leave for the death of a pet? Court weighs in."

The man was not really asking for FMLA leave for the death of his beloved dog. Rather, he asked for the time off due to the insomnia that was triggered by the loss. He made a couple of errors along the way, however, which contributed to the rejection of his request.

Sales reps for medical lab find evidence of unlawful kickbacks

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced a settlement in a pharmacogenomics whistleblower lawsuit. Pharmacogenomic testing analyzes a patient's genetic makeup to help identify the proper drugs and doses of the drugs that may provide the best benefit for the individual patient's condition.

In 2014, two sales representatives for a laboratory management company filed a "qui tam" lawsuit alleging that medical diagnostic testing laboratory and the laboratory management company created a fraudulent clinical research program that, according to the lawsuit, was scheme that used kickbacks to increase business for the laboratory.

ACLU: Bill would roll back rights of people with disabilities

It has been 28 years since Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. The landmark legislation pushed businesses to recognize that people with disabilities have rights, too.

A legislative proposal recently unveiled in the House of Representatives will undo one of the key tenets of the ADA and "roll back the rights of people with disabilities," the American Civil Liberties Union says.

Whistleblower awarded roughly $2.9 million in MRI scan lawsuit

We have discussed a variety of ways that healthcare providers may try to bend the rules to obtain more money from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Upcoding is a common issue in healthcare fraud. This occurs when the provider uses the billing code assigned to a more expensive procedure or service than was actually provided. Charging the government for services that were never provided is also common. An interesting twist that seems to fall somewhere between these two common kings of healthcare fraud schemes arose in a recent whistleblower lawsuit on the East Coast.

No Supervising Physician, Despite Medicare Rules

An employee of an MRI provider says the imaging company was performing contrast MRI scans of patients, according to the lawsuit. Dye is injected into the patient in these procedures to enhance the contrast in the final images, making it easier to observe certain types of tissue. However, the worker says that he noticed there was no medical doctor personally supervising the procedure. Medicare rules require these procedures to be personally supervised by a physician. Obviously, the physician's fees are built in to the billing code.

Proposal would slash Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave benefits

Under a recent proposal in the Wisconsin State Assembly, some part-time workers would lose Family and Medical Leave benefits. The proposal would allow businesses to deny benefits to those who work between 19 and 24 hours per week.

A recent article on the Wisconsin Public Radio website says those workers would no longer be eligible to receive two weeks of paid leave to care for a sick child, spouse or parent. The Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act also ensures that employees can get two weeks of paid leave to care for their own serious health issues.

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