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April 2012 Archives

Long-term disability application leads to privacy case, concl.

We are still discussing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision about the Privacy Act and its waiver of sovereign immunity. The plaintiff sued a handful of federal agencies when his HIV status was made public; the agencies had shared information about him, including his application for Social Security disability benefits. In the majority opinion, the court focused on the act allowing individuals to file civil actions if they suffered "actual damages" because of an agency's violation.

Long-term disability application leads to privacy case, p. 3

The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in a Privacy Act case has caused a stir among consumer advocates and in legal circles. The plaintiff accused the Federal Aviation Administration, the Social Security Administration and the United States Department of Transportation of violating the Privacy Act when the agencies shared information about his Social Security long-term disability benefits. As we said in our last post, the majority decision turned on the Privacy Act's use of the term "actual damages."

Social Security to stop issuing paper checks

By March 2013, Social Security will cease issuing paper checks to recipients. Individuals who receive Social Security, veterans' benefits, railroad pensions and disability payments will be required to receive their monthly benefits either by direct deposit or on a debit card.

Long-term disability application leads to privacy case, cont.

We are picking up our discussion from earlier this month of a U.S. Supreme Court case that provoked some strong feelings for commentators. As we explained in our April 5 post, the case was brought by a man whose HIV status became public knowledge at the hands of the federal government.

Long-term disability benefits at risk in Nortel bankruptcy

In the business world, there is an underlying tension between employees and investors. While neither will survive, much less thrive, without the other, budget considerations often come down to what's good for the investor or what's good for the employee. Right now, telecommunications company Nortel Networks Corp. is between that rock and hard place, and its long-term disability benefits and retiree health care plans are both at risk.

Court knocks SOX off contractors' retaliation claim, p. 2

We are continuing our discussion of a case involving contract workers and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. In a work-for-hire situation, an employee may often feel that he is serving two masters. In some circumstances, that is true. In others, however, the fact that the employee works for the agency and not the company (our terms from our April 12 post) is enormously important.

Court knocks SOX off contractors' retaliation claim

A recent case heard in federal court raised some interesting issues about contract workers and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. As more and more companies are hiring contractors for short-term and long-term assignments, they are finding themselves facing questions about employment issues such as disability accommodations, leave policies and, as in this case, retaliation.

Potential False Claims Act violation justifies retaliation suit

A federal court has given a saleswoman the go-ahead for her retaliation claim against her former employer. The case is unusual, because the judge allowed the claim under the False Claims Act, even though the employee did not report the company to the government.

Long-term disability application leads to Supreme Court privacy case p2

We are continuing our discussion of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The case started with a man, HIV-positive and near death, applying for Social Security disability benefits. It ended with a majority decision that the Privacy Act does not allow damages for mental and emotional distress claims.

Long-term disability application leads to Supreme Court privacy case

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down a decision that reinforces the doctrine of sovereign immunity, even when questions of private health data are concerned. The case specifically addresses the provisions of the federal Privacy Act, but it started with a terrible diagnosis and a claim for long-term disability benefits.

Should I apply for unemployment? I'm suing my former employer.

Yes. If you have initiated an action against your former employer for violating your rights under the ADA, ADEA, Title VII, FMLA or most any other fair employment law, you have an obligation to mitigate your damages. In other words, the courts and their laws require you to take steps to remedy your unfortunate situation by attempting to earn money. In most cases, that means regularly and consistently applying for work, networking, starting or building a business, attending school, or a combination of those activities. It also means applying for unemployment insurance benefits.

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