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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

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.

Doing the right thing: Judge allows whistleblower suit to continue

On its website, Bayada Home Health Care urges its employees to “do the right thing.” Three former employees believe they’ve done just that by filing a whistleblower lawsuit that accuses Bayada of fraudulent Medicare billing.

Though all three signed separation agreements that released the company “from any and all claims,” U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg said their lawsuit can proceed. When denying Bayada’s motion to dismiss the suit that, he noted that though the separation agreements cover the former employees’ False Claims Act claims, the releases could not be enforced.

Whistleblower says pharmacy engaged in wrongful ‘swapping’

There is a difference in how government health care programs reimburse health care providers for Medicare Part A services as compared to Part B and Part D Medicare services. Some commentators believe that the different arrangements tempt some health care providers to create schemes to increase profits through reimbursement.A whistleblower says that he noticed a billing discrepancy in the way a Kentucky-based pharmacy company that serves nursing homes negotiated its prices under Part A when dealing with nursing home facilities. He initiated a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the institutional pharmacy service provider used a scheme, commonly referred to as “swapping,” to defraud Medicare.

Judge rules Wisconsin’s transgender care denial is sex discrimination

A federal judge recently ruled that Wisconsin’s exclusion of health insurance coverage for medically necessary gender reassignment surgery violates the federal Civil Rights Act. U.S. District Judge William Conley said the denial of coverage for two University of Wisconsin-Madison employees who are transitioning to female is a form of prohibited sex discrimination.

Conley said the coverage exclusion also violates a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination.

Rehab services provider settles whistleblower suit over kickbacks

Creating unfair incentives to bring in business in the health industry may be the basis for a claim under the False Claims Act. Improper contracts may come in a variety of forms. Kickback schemes and similar inducements to increase revenues from Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements are often the focus of health care fraud lawsuits. Private individuals may initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the government to expose fraud in government contracts.

Providing Services At Low Cost To Induce Long-Term Contracts

Appeals court reinstates FMLA interference, retaliation case

If you go to the Department of Labor’s Milwaukee office and ask, you’ll find that when an employee returns from leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, “he or she must be restored to the same job or to an ‘equivalent job’.”

That provision of the law is at the center of a FMLA interference and retaliation case filed by a former employee of a furniture rental outlet.

Dermatology Services Provider Settles Whistleblower Claim For $4M

Health care fraud costs taxpayers an exorbitant amount of money.  The federal government, however, does not always detect fraudulent practices in processing Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and similar reimbursement invoices from health care providers nationwide. Many instances of fraud related to government contracts and health care programs are discovered by workers in the relevant industries. Health care workers at any level may detect irregularities in billing practices that unfairly cost taxpayers more money than the services are worth.

The Department of Justice says that a dermatology practice in the South violated the False Claims Act by overcharging Medicare and Medicaid for services provided to residents of assisted living facilities, retirement communities and similar entities. The dermatology practice allegedly abused the rules related to non-melanoma skin cancer services using superficial radiation therapy. The end-result, according to a recent lawsuit, was increased revenues to the health care providers without a medical basis. 

Special Counsel: Interior Dept. whistleblower wrongfully fired

Six years ago, a Department of the Interior employee reported to his supervisors that the federal department had violated the National Environmental Policy Act in order to make it easier for Arctic Ocean oil exploration. When Jeffrey Missal's supervisors showed little interest, he reported the infraction to the department's Inspector General.

Two years later, Missal was informed that his supervisors had launched an investigation into unspecified misconduct he had allegedly committed. On that very same day, the Alaska-based Environmental Officer was also told that the IG was investigating Missal as well.

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