Another state has joined the ranks in support of the injured and disabled. A doctor in a northern state had filed a long-term disability benefits claim stating that he was not able to work because of severe pain in his back. The insurance company denied his claim, so he appealed his case in federal court. His appeal was denied based on a discretionary clause in the insurance company's policy that required judges to review cases not on the merits of the claim, but on whether that denial met that insurance carrier's own standards. In Wisconsin and other states across the country, discretionary clauses like this one are still allowed, although it appears that this is changing rapidly.
In today's economy, many workers are concerned about job security. However, when an illness arises in a family, a worker can be forced to take unpaid leave leaving them concerned about having a job to return to. A recent article published about unpaid leave and the need for changes in the system could be relevant for Wisconsin workers in a similar situation.
Wisconsin workers who are employed by a company that has at least 50 employees working at least 20 weeks out of the current or past calendar year, or who work for a public agency, are entitled to certain benefits related to serious family or medical needs. These benefits are provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. The federal law requires that employers allow workers to take unpaid leave to address certain medical or family matters, without risk of losing their job as a result.
Many workers with families often worry about becoming sick or their children becoming sick. Having to take unpaid leave can run the risk of putting a family in a financial struggle due to lost wages. The idea of employers being required to allow employees sick days with pay has been taken up in many states. However, some employers see paid sick days as too costly for their companies, and some locations which adopted the policy, including a Wisconsin city, have reversed the decision.
A Wisconsin man is alleging that his offer of employment was wrongfully rescinded because of a perception that he is gay.
We often discuss the fact that employers in Wisconsin are prohibited by law from retaliating against employees who report wrongdoing, such as discrimination or harassment. Federal employees have very specific legal protections in this regard. The Whistleblower Protection Act, which was passed 1989, offers protections to federal employees who report the misconduct of the agencies they work for, allowing them to obtain compensation if they are retaliated against.
As we often discuss in this blog, employers here in Wisconsin are required to make certain accommodations for employees with disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must provide changes to a workplace or role--reasonable accommodations--in order to allow workers with disabilities to perform their jobs. Examples of such accommodations include modifying equipment, such as adding computer screen magnifiers or adjusting desk height, and adjusting schedules, among other things.