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February 2011 Archives

The definition of a service animal

Many of us are familiar with the idea of a dog serving as a service animal, but people in the state of Washington currently have a greater array when it comes to picking out a helpful animal. Under the state's current law monkeys, parrots, snakes, ferrets, lizards and full-size horses have been brought into restaurants under the guise of service animals. The state's current loose definition of service animal allows nondisabled people with pets to push the envelope of the service animal meaning.

United States lags in paid leave for family support

According to a report created by Human Rights Watch, the United States lags behind 178 other countries that have mandatory paid time off after childbirth. While the United States does have the Family Medical Leave Act, the federal law only offers unpaid leave rights for new parents. In the United States, state laws may supplement the federal Family Medical Leave Act by providing additional time off or paid time off for eligible workers. Regarding federal law, the Human Rights Watch report entitled, "Failing its Families" says the United States is an "outlier" when it comes to paid maternity leave.

Hard to navigate wintry Madison in a wheelchair

Even though the city of Madison, Wisconsin does a good job of complying with big ticket components of the Americans with Disabilities Act like mainline bus accessibility, wheelchair users say getting around the city in the winter is a strenuous activity. The conditions on the sidewalks and streets like piles of snow left by snowplows or unshoveled sidewalks make traversing the city hard for people in wheelchairs to use the streets.

Proposed Wisconsin budget may change state's FMLA

The new governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, recently announced a proposed state budget that may change the state's Family Medical Leave Act. The controversial budget proposal has other labor law implications as well such as the ability of public employees to retain their bargaining rights. The new governor wants to eliminate the bargaining rights of public employees except the bargaining right for increases in pay relative to inflation. Firefighter and police unions would not be affected by the proposal.

Teenager died because of FLSA violation

Over the last year more grain bin workers in the United States have been killed in grain entrapments than at any other time since records were first kept in 1978. Safety violations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have also increased regarding the operation of grain facilities across the United States including Wisconsin. Last year 25 workers were killed in grain entrapments.

Pilot wins back long-term disability benefits

The 3rd United States Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that American Airlines improperly terminated the long-term disability benefits of a former pilot. The airline pilot experienced a psychotic episode and was no longer able to fly after the episode. Observers of the case say the most important part of the ruling was how the court explained the remedy for when an employee's long-term benefits are unlawfully terminated.

Disabled and living in nursing home sue for alternative housing

Three disabled men who live in a nursing home have filed a class action suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act and claim that the state of Maine has filed violated their rights by not providing an alternative housing situation. The suit now has as many as 40 plaintiffs who face similar living conditions around the state. All three of the original plaintiffs are young men with disabilities who are living in nursing homes. The young men say that their living circumstances are depressing and want to live around others who are like them.

Recession created unexpected results in short and long-term disability claims

The recession created unexpected results in short and long-term disability claims in 2009 according to the Employer Measure of Productivity, Absence and Quality annual survey. Business owners in the United States saw fewer claims for short-term and long-term disability benefits in 2009. In addition, employers in the United States also saw lower short-term disability costs though costs per claim for long term disability rose by 25 percent.

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