October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, bringing to light disability employment issues and celebrating the many and varied contributions of America's workers and disabilities. This year's theme is aptly named "Because We Are EQUAL to the Task," and this is particularly relevant because nearly one in every five Americans has a disability. Wisconsin residents who have a medical impairment are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and discrimination against them in the workplace is prohibited.
Research shows that 25 percent of young people today will suffer a disability by the time they reach the age of 67. The application process for Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefits can be difficult due to how long a claim can take and the high chance of being denied. Wisconsin applicants who are denied can learn about the system and file an appeal.
Fraudulent acts occur every day, and many people are able to commit crimes without consequence. When fraud is suspected, Wisconsin citizens can file a whistleblower claim against a person or business that committed fraud against the U.S. government. Recently, one American whistleblower was sentenced to a yearlong term in federal prison, for not coming to the authorities with knowledge of the fraudulent actions sooner.
Disability discrimination unfortunately comes in all forms and is not just relegated to the workplace. It is against the law to discriminate against disabled people in various areas of their lives. Wisconsin law gives certain basic rights to all consumers of goods, facilities and services. Recently, a disabled girl made national news after filing a disability discrimination lawsuit when she was denied a kidney transplant.
Like many Americans, individuals are finding the need to file for Social Security benefits and expediting the claim to improve the chances of approval is often necessary. Social Security applicants commonly need all of the extra subsidies available, and a successful claim is often difficult to secure. Adding to the difficulty, Wisconsin recipients of Social Security Benefits have recently been warned by the Social Security Administration that the benefits may be at risk for loss if the debt ceiling cannot be raised this month.
Many employers violate the Family Medical Leave Act. No employee should fear for their job after going on extended leave. The Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act mandates that covered employers offer as many as eight weeks of unpaid leave without jeopardizing the job status of eligible employees for various family and individual medical situations. Recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has planned to propose new legislation that will amend the FMLA to ensure that employees ' family and medical leave rights are better preserved.
Should a woman be treated differently in the workplace after announcing a pregnancy? The answer, of course, is no. Unfortunately, women are discriminated in the workplace for pregnancy all too frequently. As their pregnancy progresses, women in Wisconsin have the right to reasonable accommodation in the workplace and should not be subjected to pregnancy discrimination.
Yes. If an employee is terminated or laid off from his position by no fault of his own, he is entitled to collect unemployment insurance benefits. A furlough or lay off from a government position due to the current shutdown in Washington is no different.
Recently, a whistleblower case was closed to bring a major violation to light that resulted in an approximately $14 million payout. After discovering fraudulent activity, an individual volunteered a tip to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC was able to recoup investor funds after further investigation. As in this case, Wisconsin residents should be aware that they can contact the federal whistleblower program when suspecting an employer, colleague or any individual to be engaged in illegal activities that result in monetary benefits or personal gain.
All sorts of government programs, from the National Parks to National Monuments, to military bases, are closing due to the government shutdown. As the government begins to close its doors for various services and projects, many disabled individuals are left wondering if they will continue to receive their Social Security disability checks, and for those still waiting for benefits they are left wondering what will happen to their case.