It's tax time, and workers who collected unemployment in Wisconsin in 2012 are wondering whether they owe any taxes on their benefit payments. In short, they do. In 2009, the first $2,400 of unemployment insurance payments was exempt from federal income tax. The reprieve was only temporary, however. Like most sources of income, all unemployment payments have been taxable at both the state and federal level in Wisconsin since 2010.
Many people in Wisconsin have long-term disability insurance policies through their employers. Others may have purchased long-term disability insurance independently. This is a very important type of insurance because it provides a safety net in case one suddenly can no longer work due to an illness or in injury. However, as with many types of insurance, it can be difficult to get the insurer to hold up to its end of the deal when it is time to obtain benefits.
There are a number of reasons that the vast majority of Social Security disability claims out of Wisconsin are denied the first time around. One reason is that because the application process is very complicated applicants often fail to provide sufficient documentation of their disabilities. Another reason is that the Social Security Administration has an immense backlog of applications, so individual judges fail to give each application the attention it deserves.
Now that Lance Armstrong has reportedly come clean to the public about using performance-enhancing drugs, there is much speculation about the legal repercussions. Armstrong's confession is in contrast to statements he has made under oath and to lawsuits he's won against those who tried to out him in the past. While it is unclear what may now become of those cases, Armstrong's recent admission may put fire under the U.S. government to join a whistle-blower lawsuit against him.
When employers learn of sexual harassment in their places of employment, they are bound by federal law to immediately take an effective action to put a stop to it. When employers fail to respond appropriately to reports of sexual harassment, they can be held accountable and they may be liable for damages to victims.
A key aspect of the Americans with Disabilities Act is the fact that employers need to grant reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. In order to eliminate artificial barriers to employment, employers must work with disabled employees to provide things that may be necessary such as a restructuring of duties, tools for the job, a job-protected leave, a modified work schedule or a reassignment, for example. When employers fail to abide by the law and provide accommodations, there may be consequences.
Under the federal False Claims Act, citizens can blow the whistle on a business or person that is defrauding the government or violating government regulations. Often, employees bring such lawsuits because they have inside knowledge of wrongdoing. As a reward for blowing the whistle, False Claims Act whistle-blowers are entitled to a piece of any resulting financial settlement; this is called a relator's share. However, these lawsuits are very complicated. In a case that just ended, the government has moved to dismiss a case due to a whistle-blower's actions.
Expecting fathers here in Wisconsin may want to think about moving abroad. This week, Finland enacted a new law that allows new fathers to take 54 days of paid leave following the birth of a child. Of course, Finland is not the only place to find mandatory paid paternity leave; there are countries all over the world where this is the norm. For example, in Sweden fathers receive 480 days of paid paternity leave. Of course, that is nowhere near the case here in the U.S. where many argue that our family leave laws are actually biased against fathers.
Long-term disability insurance is meant to be a safety net for workers should they become disabled before retirement. Unfortunately, as with many forms of insurance, insurers often wrongly deny claims or minimize payouts. Long-term disability denials are often results of insurance-friendly doctors finding that the disability was a result of a pre-existing medical condition. Such was the case for two New York City police officers who were diagnosed with cancer following their work at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks.