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May 2013 Archives

Wisconsin missed deadline for false claims act legislation

We discuss the federal False Claims Act quite a bit in this Milwaukee Employment Law Blog. The False Claims Act allows citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government against individuals and organizations that are defrauding the government. The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act allows these whistle-blowers to share in any financial recovery that results from the lawsuit. The False Claims Act is a very important federal statute, and Congress has been pushing states to enact similar state false claims laws, too.

Proposed Unemployment Insurance Changes Threaten Benefits

Yesterday, Wisconsin State Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, a 16-member standing committee, proposed substantial changes to the Unemployment Insurance system, including big changes to the definition of "misconduct" in unemployment insurance cases.

Hostile-environment sexual harassment is subject of EEOC lawsuit

Some Wisconsin residents might not be aware that sexual harassment in any form is not only impolite and in poor taste, but it is also very clearly illegal. When it comes to employment, sexual harassment is generally divided into two categories: quid pro quo and hostile environment.

Can employers return workers to different jobs after FMLA leaves?

When family or medical needs require a Wisconsin resident to take time off work, there are state and federal laws that come into play. Under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act, private and public employers who have at least 50 employees must provide unpaid, job-protected medical or family leaves to workers who have put in at least 1,000 hours in the previous 52 weeks. Under the Wisconsin FMLA, workers can take up to six weeks of leave annually for the birth or adoption of a child, and two weeks for serious health conditions.

Disability Insurance Awareness Month is here

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, which means it is a good time for Wisconsin residents to make sure that they understand their disability options. Disability insurance is an important lifeline for those who become disabled before retirement, and this happens much more frequently than most people realize. The Social Security Administration estimates that one-quarter of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled prior to retirement.

EEOC files genetic information discrimination lawsuit

We write quite a bit about the Americans with Disabilities Act in this Milwaukee Employment Law Blog. Many employers and employees in Wisconsin are aware that this federal law bars employers from discriminating against workers or job applicants on the basis of a real or perceived disability. Another law that is closely tied to the ADA is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This act was just passed into law in 2009, and many employers do not understand what this requires of them.

Federal Judges hot under the collar over SSDI decisions

It seems everyday there is another report about a Social Security claimant who fought for decades to receive benefits. This type of story should be rare, however the frequency with which it occurs is staggering. Claimants could fight for years after filing their claims, appealing denials of benefits, sometimes all the way to federal court. In many cases, even Federal Court isn't the final stage if the Judge remands - or sends the case back - to the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") who initially heard the case for consideration of new information and a new hearing. This process can be especially frustrating when the ALJ's decision is based on insufficient or erroneous conclusions, or simple boilerplate language that offers no real analysis.

Medical company settles whistle-blower lawsuit

Wisconsin residents should be able to trust that their doctors are making decisions about their health care based on knowledge and expertise, not bribes or profits. This is why it is illegal for medical companies to provide hospitals or doctors with kickbacks for using or prescribing their products--doctors should make decisions based on the patient's needs, not undue influences.

Are Wisconsin employers going to do away with overtime pay?

In 1938, the federal government enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act in order to protect workers in Wisconsin and throughout the union from being exploited by their employers. One important provision of this law limits the work week to 40 hours. Workers must be compensated for any hours they work over 40 with time-and-a-half their regular rate of pay. By the mid-1980s, workers in the public sector were given the option of selecting overtime pay or paid time off--meaning they could either take extra wages for their extra hours or bank one and a half vacation hours for every hour over 40 that they work.

Chris Kluwe's release spurs employment law questions

Wisconsin football fans know that the Minnesota Vikings released punter Chris Kluwe earlier this week although he had a year left on his contract. While the Vikings' management have claimed that Kluwe was cut so that the team could add a more competitive punter to its roster, a number of people--even the state's governor--have questioned whether the fact that Kluwe has become an outspoken gay rights advocate had anything to do with the decision.

Landmark verdict sends message about disability discrimination

Wisconsin residents may have heard that a landmark Americans with Disabilities Act case came to a close this week. The case involved a Texas turkey processor that ran a labor camp for mentally disabled men in Iowa for decades until the Des Moines Register brought the camp to the attention of state officials in 2009.

Judges sue Social Security Administration over disability process

Many Wisconsin residents can attest to the troubles that come with being overworked. Having too much on your plate at work can affect your personal life, your social life and your health--not to mention your performance on those actual work tasks. The latter is apparently a problem for Social Security disability administrative law judges, according to a lawsuit that was filed last week.

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