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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Nurse To Receive $1.4M in Hospice Whistleblower Suit

Healthcare providers and businesses in the industry that put their own bottom lines ahead of the needs of patients can cost taxpayers large amounts of money. Billing policies and quotas to increase company revenues are occasionally suspect practices that may indicate that healthcare fraud exists.

A recent whistleblower lawsuit filed under the Federal False Claims Act alleged that a hospice care provider sought to increase its revenues by certifying patients as terminally ill, even though their medical records did not support the medical conclusion.

Wisconsin Supreme Court sides with employer in disability discrimination dispute

The state Supreme Court has sided with employers in a critical dispute over disability discrimination. Charles Carlson alleged in his lawsuit that his employer, Wisconsin Bell, violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) when it fired him. The state Supreme Court recently decided that the company did not violate the law when it fired Carlson for conduct that broke workplace rules, even though Bell knew Carlson had bipolar disorder.

Carlson worked in the phone company's customer service call center, but was fired for having personal conversations on a company messaging system, avoiding customer calls and leaving work early.

VA watchdog v. VA Secretary in battle over whistleblowers

On one side there is the acting Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Peter O'Rourke and on the other side, the VA's watchdog, Inspector General Michael Missal. In between are the whistleblowers -- those brave enough to step forward and report fraud being committed against the U.S. governmental agency.

In an exchange of vitriolic letters, Missal and O'Rourke have publicly questioned each other's motives and authority in the implementation of the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.

Employers warned to avoid FMLA violations

The old song says that a sigh is just a sigh. But when a manager sighs or swears when an employee requests leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, it can be the start of real problems for the employer. That's what attendees at the recent Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference were told.

FMLA violations often begin in interactions between managers and employees. Too often, supervisors have little or no training in how to deal appropriately with requests for leave. Conference attendees were told that managers should be coached in how to respond properly to requests, so that they reply with helpful, positive statements such as "Let me know how I can help you" rather than sighing or swearing in frustration or anger.

Nursing Home Settles Therapy Whistleblower Suit For Roughly $30M

A large nursing home operator in the south has settled a whistleblower lawsuit for more than $30 million. Signature HealthCARE, LLC, owns roughly 125 facilities and regularly seeks reimbursement from Medicare. Two former therapy employees for the nursing home company noted that the facilities were billing Medicare for rehabilitation therapy services that were over-inflated. An investigation revealed that the company billed Medicare for services that were not reasonable, necessary, and skilled, according to the Department of Justice.

The former therapy workers initiated a lawsuit on behalf of the government under the False Claims Act to recover taxpayer money that was fraudulently obtained. The whistleblowers will receive a percentage of the $30 million recovered in the settlement, however, the DOJ has not yet revealed the amount the whistleblowers will receive for uncovering the allegations.

Sprint settles wage-and-hour class-action lawsuit

Sprint’s business sales employees might be forgiven if they ask management of the company “Can you hear me now?” After news that Sprint recently reached a $3.65 million settlement with sales employees, there is no doubt that management has finally heard them.

The settlement earlier this month brought to an end a nine-year class-action wage-and-hour lawsuit that began when nearly 4,000 Sprint sales employees claimed the phone company failed to pay commissions they were owed after the merger with Nextel in 2004.

Whistleblowers In Defense Contractor Lawsuit To Receive $4.4M

Branches of the United States military often rely on contractors to provide services to benefit the Armed Forces. Defense contractors employ civilians to perform these services. Yet, if a defense industry contractor seeks to pad its own bottom line through overbilling, the federal government may not necessarily be able to detect fraudulent billing practices. For that reason, the federal False Claims Act allows private individuals to bring forth information about unfair and unlawful billing practices to protect taxpayers and the government from fraudulent practices.

Branches of the United States military often rely on contractors to provide services to benefit the Armed Forces. Defense contractors employ civilians to perform these services. Yet, if a defense industry contractor seeks to pad its own bottom line through overbilling, the federal government may not necessarily be able to detect fraudulent billing practices. For that reason, the federal False Claims Act allows private individuals to bring forth information about unfair and unlawful billing practices to protect taxpayers and the government from fraudulent practices.

Long-term disability insurance explainer

We read with interest a recent article on a personal financial news website about two programs that help employees who are unable to continue working because of injury or illness. Both are familiar to regular readers of our Milwaukee employment law blog: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and long-term disability insurance (LTD).

Kiplinger points out that only about one third of all U.S. employees have LTD insurance coverage. Like Social Security Disability, LTD benefits are income replacement for workers who have a serious medical condition that prevents them from continuing their careers.

Are you too old to read this?

The short answer: of course you are not too old to read this newest post on our Milwaukee employment law blog. However, that doesn't mean you might not be considered too old to read employment ads on Facebook placed by Amazon, Ikea, T-Mobile, Cox Media Group and hundreds of other companies allegedly targeting their ads away from job-seekers in their 50s and 60s.

The companies apparently use Facebook's targeting capabilities to ensure that their job ads will only be seen by younger Facebook users. A labor union that represents 700,000 media workers has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging age discrimination.

DOJ Joins Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Construction Contractor

In late April, media outlets around the nation's capital reported that problems were detected with concrete that was poured in a $2.6 billion project to extend rail service to Dulles International Airport. More recently, news reports emerged that allege that a subcontractor knowingly allowed the defective concrete panels to be installed in the project.

A former lab technician at the concrete company filed a whistleblower lawsuit in 2016 to address the potential fraud against the government. The Department of Justice announced on May 16, 2018 that it was joining in the lawsuit. The court file related to the lawsuit was also unsealed on the same day.

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