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June 2011 Archives

Labor Department tackles wage and hour enforcement at farms

While it is not currently slated to occur in Wisconsin, the United States Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division is executing an initiative on labor law compliance in the agricultural industry along the East Coast. The initiative is being conducted to ensure compliance among employers and to remind workers about their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act's Field Sanitation Standard.

Study suggests Social Security Disability appeals backlog growing

The Social Security Administration implemented efforts four-and-one-half years ago to reduce the backlog of Social Security Disability appeals cases, but despite the Administration's best efforts a recent study suggests the backlog has grown over the last year because of a jump in new applications. Over the past two years, the Social Security Disability Income program has struggled to handle the wave of new applicants for disability benefits. The wave of new applicants is likely related to the slow economic recovery.

Wisconsin Convenience Store Sued for Disability Discrimination

On May 25, 2011, the EEOC filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Meffert Oil Company, Inc., which owns and operates BP One Stop stores in Waunakee, Wisconsin. The EEOC sued the company for allegedly firing an employee because of her disabilities. The employee at issue, who suffers from interstitial familial pulmonary fibrosis and panic attacks, alleges that the Defendant fired her for leaving work to seek medical attention for her disabilities.

Many unpaid internships likely violate Fair Labor Standards Act

Summer is normally a time for many high school and college students to gain work experience. Often, students turn towards internships and more and more many students turn to unpaid internships in order to gain valuable and applicable work experience that will enhance their future careers. The tough economy has likely made unpaid internships more popular for students in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the country. Beware, unpaid internships must meet specific criteria under the Fair Labor Standards Act otherwise the intern must be paid.

Five things to consider regarding long-term disability benefits - Part 2

Last time we spoke about long-term disability benefits and began to talk about five things that Wisconsin workers should consider when thinking about their long-term disability benefits. During the previous post we talked about monthly caps and the idea of getting an individual policy when a company policy may not be enough. This time we will finish the discussion by examining the last three points.

Five things to consider regarding long-term disability benefits - Part 1

We have not spoken about long-term disability benefits for a while and there are some things that workers in Wisconsin should consider when thinking about their long-term disability benefits. Here are five contemporary issues regarding long-term disability benefits.

The fight for paid sick days

Most employees around the country do not have legally guaranteed paid sick days from their employer. While the Family Medical Leave Act guarantees eligible employees unpaid leave to take care of ill loved ones, there is no national law that guarantees paid sick leave for individual employees. The fight for legally guaranteed paid sick leave is being fought across the United States, and Wisconsin has been actively involved but not successful.

What must I do weekly to collect unemployment benefits?

Some employees who are otherwise entitled to unemployment insurance benefits find themselves with the false impression that they do not have to file claims, or that they have no obligations in the unemployment compensation system. However, at a minimum, employees are required to file claims each week they remain unemployed, answer a series of questions from the Unemployment Division, and usually, apply for work. It's important that filing employees answer the questions from the State honestly and accurately in order to ensure the proper and timely payment of benefits.

Consultative Exams ordered by the Social Security Administration

Occasionally, the Social Security Administration will order a claimant for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income to undergo a consultative evaluation by a physician or mental health professional of the Administration's choosing. There are three important things to remember in association with these notices.

Starbucks sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

coffee cup.bmpThe EEOC recently filed a lawsuit against Starbucks Coffee Company for allegedly failing to provide a disabled employee with a reasonable accommodation. The employee is disabled by virtue of her physical impairment, dwarfism. The employee was hired by Starbucks to work as a barista preparing orders and serving customers. The employee alleges that approximately three days into her barista training, she asked Starbucks to provide her with an accommodation by allowing her to use a stool or step ladder. Instead of working with the employee to provide a reasonable accommodation, the employee alleges that Starbucks terminated her employment the same day she asked for accommodations. According to the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, Starbucks alleges it terminated her employment because she could pose a danger to customers and employees.

Children with allergies get help from allergy-sniffing dogs

Dogs that sniff out life-threatening allergens like peanut butter and tree nuts are recognized medical service animals under the American with Disabilities Act. To the owners, especially young owners, of these dogs, their abilities can mean the difference between life and death. The increase in food allergies among American children over the last ten years means that more young people in the United States may need the services of allergy-sniffing dogs.

Some lawmakers challenge state and FLSA child labor laws

Some state lawmakers across the United States and at least one member of Congress are challenging decades old child labor laws at the state and federal level. State child labor laws have been challenged in states like Maine and Missouri, and one Congressman has questioned the constitutionality of federal child labor laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While child labor laws in Wisconsin are not under threat, the recent activity shows a growing trend of hostility toward labor law.

Social Security Disability judge put on leave

An administrative law judge that hears Social Security Disability appeals cases has been put on paid leave by the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration began an investigation of the administrative law judge just over two weeks ago. The investigation came in response to an article published by the Wall Street Journal that detailed the federal judge's history of approving the vast majority of his cases.

Length of new mothers' breast-feeding linked to time off and FMLA

A new study demonstrates the longer new mothers stay home with their newborns, the more likely the mothers will breast-feed their babies. The researchers who conducted the study found that new mothers who were at home for three months or longer were twice as likely to breast-feed their newborns beyond the three month mark.

Wisconsin Bans Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

out sick.jpgWisconsin continues to make headlines with employee rights issues. The Wisconsin Assembly recently passed a bill that has put an end to any hope Milwaukee workers had of receiving mandatory paid sick leave. At issue is a hotly debated and heavily litigated Milwaukee ordinance mandating that employers provide paid sick days to employees. The sick leave ordinance was approved by voters after it was placed on the ballot for the November 4, 2008 election.

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