Employers often have rules that extend beyond the walls of the office or factory and intrude on the outside lives of their employees. Some of the most common policies are those regulating illegal drug use both at work and outside of work. Some of the most controversial policies are those regulating the ingestion of unhealthy, but otherwise legal substances, including alcohol and tobacco off work premises. Other "outside of work rules" that some employers seek to impose are social networking regulations and residency requirements for municipal workers.
Technology is not always our friend, especially when it comes to physical activity. Parents everywhere say their kids spend more time texting or playing computer games than they do getting fresh air and exercise. Parents aren't immune, either. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the obesity rate for adults has more than doubled over the past 20 years. In Wisconsin, more than 26 percent of adults are obese.
We are finishing up our discussion of an 8th Circuit case that highlights the complexities of insurance companies' benefits decisions. Each decision is based on the opinions of a number of professionals, including the treating physician(s). The plan in this case defined two long-term disability benefit periods: In the first 24 months, the claimant cannot perform his own job; after that, he cannot perform any job.
We are picking up our discussion of a case out of the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals regarding an employee's long-term disability benefits claim.
Most Wisconsin jetsetters would find it hard to believe that a pilot could be fired for ensuring the safety of passengers aboard flights. Nevertheless, a recent story discusses the firing of an employee who was concerned about flight-related mechanical equipment.
The Family and Medical Leave Act can be difficult for any Wisconsin worker to understand. In fact, it can be hard for employers to understand, too. It's okay if employers get confused, but it is not okay if they blunder forward without making sure they are giving employees the consideration and respect they must have.
Starting a new job usually includes a review of the benefits plan with a human resources representative. The summary sheets give a broad overview of health and dental plans, life insurance and short- and long-term disability insurance. Most of the time, that's the last time the employee thinks about those benefits -- until he needs them.
We are continuing the discussion from our last post about how insurance companies determine eligibility for benefits. A recent case out of the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals shows how heavily one insurance company relied on physician reports in a long-term disability benefit claim. The case itself did not originate in Wisconsin, but we chose it because, under some circumstances, Wisconsin courts must follow decisions from the 8th Circuit. (The 8th Circuit decides long-term disability claims brought by people in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.)
A couple of weeks ago we overheard someone at lunch talking about his disability claim. He was talking about a ski trip he'd taken a few years back that ended abruptly when he broke his left leg and right wrist in a nasty fall. He was laid up for weeks, and he had applied for long-term disability benefits through his job.
The director of an animal shelter has brought a discrimination and a wrongful discharge lawsuit against his employer after he took medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to treat a serious medical condition. Under the FMLA, an employee who leaves his job for a medical reason is entitled to return to the same or an equivalent position.
For the past 10 years, the armed forces have had to learn, the hard way, how to deal with increasingly complicated injuries and disabilities. A Wisconsin Air Force base recently hosted a conference about a new system, the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, that could very well serve as a model for private sector long-term disability initiatives.
In our last post, we were talking about the Family and Medical Leave Act. As we said, the act ensures that an employee's job and health insurance are protected when the employee takes time off for what some call "a major life event." Here in Wisconsin we have our own FMLA, and it differs from the federal law in a few ways.
We are picking up the discussion from our Dec. 11 post about both the federal and the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Acts. While most people know that the FMLA exists, surprisingly few know what rights are protected. It is one of those laws that you don't really think about until you need to -- but when you need to, chances are you are stressed out about a family illness or your own upcoming surgery, and the FMLA is just one more thing to deal with.