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September 2011 Archives

Groupon sued over Fair Labor Standards Act violations

Internet darling Groupon has recently been sued by a former employee for allegedly violating federal overtime law under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets the federal rules on minimum wage, overtime compensation for eligible employees and rules on employees under age 18. The former Groupon sales representative alleges she was not paid overtime for the period of time she worked for the company.

The need to have and review your long-term disability benefits plan

Today more employers are trimming long-term disability benefits and at the same time pushing the costs of long-term disability coverage to employees. The sea change in how the cost of long-term disability benefits coverage may go unrecognized by many employees because a number of employers in the past covered the whole cost of long-term disability and because many employees focus more on healthcare coverage. Employees should be sure to review their long-term and short-term disability benefits.


Our client, "SW", won her second decision against Unum today for Long-Term Disabiity (LTD) benefits. On appeal, we challenged the application of the self-reported symptoms limitation to her claim for LTD benefits. Unum's summary plan description ("SPD") made no mention of the self-reported symptoms limitation. Unum's approval letter included language from the plan on what was considered a disability but did not mention the self-reported symptoms limitation. In its letter of explanation, Unum did not dispute SW's diagnosis of fibromyalgia but instead emphasized that her pain, being the primary symptom associated with her fibromyalgia, was based on self-report. As such, benefits were limited to twenty-four months by the self-reported symptoms limitation.

For sick days some places move beyond FMLA

When you get sick, you probably want to take time off from work in order to recover faster and prevent your sickness from spreading. When it comes to a family member who gets sick especially children you want to help them do the same. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible workers to take unpaid time off when sick. Some places are expanding the rights of sick workers even further.

How to double the interest rate on your LTD benefit award

In a long-term disability (LTD) benefits case, the district court has discretion to grant an award of prejudgment interest. Prejudgment interest has become a familiar remedy widely recognized by federal courts as a means to make a plaintiff whole against a malingering. The reason for adding interest to the award of LTD benefits is that money has a time value, and prejudgment interest is therefore necessary in the ordinary case to compensate a plaintiff ERISA for a loss suffered on a certain date but not compensated until later. Moreover, prejudgment interest is a well-established remedy for LTD claimants. Interest is not recovered according to a rigid theory of compensation for money withheld, but is given in response to considerations of fairness, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Labor Department asks states to help enforce wage and hour violations

The United States Labor Department is asking state governments and the Internal Revenue Service to help it enforce wage and hour violations across the country. To help enforce wage and hour violations, the Labor Department is creating information sharing agreements that will forward information on businesses in breach of wage and hour laws to all cooperating authorities. As of yet, Wisconsin has not indicated its participation.

Diabetic worker sues Walgreens for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violation

The popular chain pharmacy and convenience store Walgreens has been sued by a former worker for an alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The former employee is diabetic and the former worker claims that Walgreens violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing a reasonable accommodation concerning the worker's diabetes.

How much unemployment insurance will I receive?

I usually talk to more than a dozen unemployed callers on the phone each week about their unemployment insurance benefits. Perhaps the most common question I receive is about how long they will receive benefits and what amount they will receive. Weekly unemployment insurance benefits are paid to employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The states have administrative agencies charged with investigating unemployment insurance claims and appeals and ultimately make the decision about whether or not workers are entitled to benefits. To determine whether you will be entitled to benefits, take a look some of my previous posts or contact me directly.

Woman fired after she donates kidney, FMLA may not apply

A 41-year-old woman took time away from her employer in order to donate one of her kidneys to her 22-year-old son. The woman believed she would be able to return to her job, but the company the woman worked for fired her for taking too much leave time. Unfortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act may not apply to the woman's situation because the woman's employer may not employ enough workers for it to be applicable. Even though she is currently jobless, the woman says she would make the choice to help her son all over again.

Labor Department investigating home builders for FLSA violations

The United States Labor Department is undertaking an investigation of some of the country's top home builders. The top companies in home building are being investigated for violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Fair Labor Standards Act governs issues like overtime pay, minimum wage and employing workers under the age of 18.

Starbucks Settles Disability Discrimination Suit

coffee beans.jpgI previously wrote about a lawsuit filed against Starbucks Coffee Company after it allegedly denied a reasonable accommodation to an employee disabled by dwarfism and fired her because of her small stature. Starbucks has since settled the EEOC disability discrimination suit for $75,000 and an agreement to conduct additional training on the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") with employees at stores in the El Paso area.

Professor's long-term disability benefits case heads back to court

A long-term disability benefits case involving a former professor from the University of Missouri System will go back to the trial court level after three appellate court judges overruled the initial decision regarding the case.

Man who crashed into SSA office awarded disability benefits and may lose them

We all want to be responsible for our own livelihoods, but life can become difficult when a disability prevents someone from achieving that goal. What can be even more stressful is a long and drawn out Social Security Disability Income application process. Sometimes, folks who go through the application process for disability benefits are rejected and that can make a terrible situation feel even worse. One man's episode of frustration may now threaten his disability benefits.

Administration to step-up wage and hour enforcement

National and state wage and hour laws are important legal protections to hourly workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the country. Unfortunately, many workers that get paid by the hour do not receive proper compensation. In an effort to remind businesses of their responsibilities to workers, the Obama Administration is stepping up enforcement of federal wage and hour laws. According to the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, industries like health-care, construction and tourism are especially in the lens of the enforcement effort.

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