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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Protecting whistleblowers from retaliation

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been beset in recent years by scandals, including here in Wisconsin at the Tomah facility about three hours northwest of Milwaukee. The scandals that have plagued VA hospitals across the nation have come to light because of the bravery of whistleblowers who will not turn a blind eye to misconduct.

The fight to stop fraud against the federal government goes beyond the initial headlines, however. Far too often, whistleblowers must contend with unlawful retaliation after they shine a light on malfeasance. Fortunately, an experienced employment law attorney can protect a whistleblower.

Wisconsin retailer sued for age discrimination

Led by an aging Baby Boom generation, the graying of America is well underway. While many Milwaukee-area employers embrace the shift toward an older workforce, some are resistant to the change and even push older employees out to make way for younger hires.

A 60-year-old retail salesperson south of Milwaukee recently filed a complaint under provisions of Wisconsin's fair employment law, accusing her former employer of cutting her salary and diverting her sales to younger employees before firing her.

Home oxygen supply company settles healthcare fraud lawsuit

Many people in the Milwaukee area rely on medical device suppliers to provide needed equipment for their ongoing care. Home oxygen supplies are often necessary for individuals with respiratory conditions, including many forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to facilitate breathing. Medicare covers the rental costs for many patients who use stationary or portable equipment to supply oxygen.

The rules allow Medicare to cover the costs of rental equipment during the first 36 months with few restrictions on the need for the equipment. Once that period has lapsed, Medicare requires proof that the oxygen equipment is necessary and that the patient is actually using the equipment. A recently settled lawsuit alleged that a home medical equipment supplier in the Southwestern United States billed Medicare without the necessary proof that patients needed or used the equipment. The lawsuit further alleged the company may not have even provided oxygen to some patients, but billed Medicare for reimbursement anyway.

Whistleblower who stopped Medicare fraud to receive $3.3 million

Here's a hypothetical situation: you land a new job with a Milwaukee employer, but quickly realize that the company is defrauding the federal government. What do you do? How long will you wait to report the illegal activity? And what do you do if your employer does not agree to end the fraud?

A registered nurse far from us had to grapple with these questions after she was hired by an Arizona company. Her decision was to quit her job after just three months and then file a whistleblower lawsuit under provisions of The False Claims Act.

Lance Armstrong settles False Claims Act lawsuit for $5 million

There were two powerful narratives that made Lance Armstrong into a transformative athlete. He was not only the world's greatest cyclist, winning the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times, but he was also a cancer survivor who was an inspiration to people around the world.

There was a secret third narrative, however: Lance Armstrong was one of the best cheaters and liars the world has ever seen. His years-long doping scheme enabled him to deceive the public and to wear the yellow jerseys at the front of those thrilling races. Armstrong recently agreed to pay $5 million to settle False Claims allegations stemming from his admitted doping and cheating.

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.

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