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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Automaker hit with $16.8 million judgment in discrimination case

There are Ford dealerships all over the Milwaukee area. As one of the Big Three, the automaker has produced some of America's iconic vehicles, including the Mustang, Thunderbird, Shelby Cobra, Lincoln Continental and of course, the Model T.

The auto giant was recently rocked by a federal jury’s decision to award a former Ford engineer $16.8 million because the company and the ex-employee’s supervisors created a hostile work environment. At the end of an 11-day trial, the jury found that the man had been subjected to discrimination and retaliation because of his Arab background and accent.

DOJ settles medical device whistleblower case for $33.2M

Fraudulent billing practices to directly increase products often seem to be the focus of healthcare fraud lawsuits. However, as a recent settlement under the False Claims Act (FCA) highlights, healthcare fraud issues may be somewhat more indirect. A former quality control analyst for a medical device manufacturer noted defects in a device that ultimately cost taxpayers money, according to the Department of Justice.

Defective diagnostic testing devices were often used in emergency rooms

Court clarifies employees’ FMLA obligation

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals gets its cases from the Eastern and Western districts of Wisconsin, in addition to districts in Illinois and Indiana. The court recently affirmed a lower court’s summary judgment in favor of an employer in a Family and Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act dispute.

The decision makes it clear that employees have a critical obligation in FMLA matters. It's crucial for workers who need leave to attend to a serious health condition that they give notice of the condition to their employer.

Controversy surrounds Wisconsin town’s anti-discrimination ordinance

A two-hour drive north of Milwaukee brings you to De Pere. The historic town sits on the Fox River just minutes south of the picturesque shores of Green Bay. The town has recently been embroiled in a dispute over an anti-discrimination ordinance it passed last year.

At first blush, the controversy might be mystifying. After all, the ordinance offers workplace protections to transgender people, and also prohibits denying them access to housing. While all of that might seem reasonable, a group of Du Pere churches and a Christian radio station filed a lawsuit that asks the court to dismiss the ordinance as unconstitutional or to more narrowly define the measure.

Celebrating 25 years of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Twenty-five years have gone by since the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was pushed through Congress and then signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The landmark legislation protects the jobs of workers who need leave to tend to medical problems or to care for a family member.

Though the FMLA has been law for a quarter of a century, there are still Milwaukee employers who try to deny eligible workers its benefits. Sometimes an improper denial is due to a misinterpretation of FMLA, but far too often it is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the law.

Defective bulletproof vest whistleblower lawsuit settles for $66M

Members of law enforcement and the United States armed forces rely on bulletproof vests to preserve their lives. The Department of Justice recently announced that a fiber manufacturing company has agreed to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the company was aware that the fiber known as "Zylon" was not suited for use in bulletproof vests, yet the manufacturer continued to market and sell the fiber for use in protective vests.

The U.S. Government Unknowingly Purchased Defective Vests

ERISA: protecting workers who need disability insurance benefits

President Gerald Ford had been in office less than a month when he put his signature on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 in a Labor Day White House ceremony. Since then, ERISA has been amended a number of times to strengthen its protections of American workers.

One of its most important features is its safeguarding of employees who request disability benefits from their workplace disability insurance plans. ERISA is clear: workers are to receive full reviews of their claims and must be given a fair chance to appeal denials of claims.

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.

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