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January 2014 Archives

Initiative could provide employment, reasonable accommodation

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has announced an initiative aimed at improving employment options for residents with a wide range of mental health conditions. The move could help people with Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, autism and cerebral palsy find work that is both profitable and fulfilling. By improving the state's employment rate for such workers, Walker hopes that much of the untapped potential help by these individuals can be put to use within the workforce, by means of job options and reasonable accommodation.

Wisconsin long-term disability reform

Long-term disability benefits are notoriously difficult to attain due to the fact that the long-term disability insurance companies often look for any opportunity to deny the claim. Although long-term disability insurance is designed to protect employees in the event they become disabled prior to retirement, they do not always pay the benefits to which claimants are entitled. In Wisconsin and on a national level, the debate continues as reform for long-term disability becomes necessary.

Unpaid leave is a hardship many cannot afford

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, there are several people who do not meet the strict eligibility standards. In order to be eligible for FMLA leave in Wisconsin, an employee must work for a covered employer for a total of twelve months, although not necessarily consecutively, and for at least 1,250 hours within the previous 12 months. Also, the employee must work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles of his or her worksite. FMLA does not necessarily apply to everyone and those who are protected are often faced with the prospect of using unpaid leave for the duration of the time away from the job.

One man's fight for reasonable accommodation

Many Americans are troubled with access issues in the workplace. Although there are laws in order to protect the rights of disabled workers, they undoubtedly face difficulties every day due to unreasonable accommodation. The Americans with Disabilities Act seeks to break down barriers for disabled workers in Wisconsin. Recently, one man recounts his journey through the court system to ensure that the ADA and laws surrounding reasonable accommodation are upheld.

Whistleblower video leads to investigation and subsequent action

When people in positions of authority fail to complete their jobs responsibly, dangerous consequences may follow. Whether it be due to fraudulent activity or negligent behavior, there are many federal, state and city laws meant to encourage whistleblowers to report fraud against the government and protect them from retaliation when they do. The federal False Claims Act allows Wisconsin whistleblowers -- "relators" as the law refers to them -- to file whistleblower actions against federal contractors for fraud against the government.

What's in store for the Family and Medical Leave Act?

2013 signified the twenty-year anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act in the United States. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 mandates that covered employers offer as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave without jeopardizing the job status of eligible employees for various family and individual medical situations. These medical situations include pregnancy and care for a newborn, placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition and the employee's own serious health condition. Passing the law in 1993 was a victory for many who wanted to protect the welfare of American families. Wisconsin families and individuals continue the effort to provide job security in a time of need; 2014 may mark a new milestone for the law if Congress takes action.

Social Security Administration announces increase for 2014

The Social Security Administration recently announced a 1.5 percent benefit increase for 2014. This is one of the lowest raises in years due to the economic stagnancy that has plagued the country in previous years. The 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2014, according to the Social Security Administration. If an individual in Wisconsin is looking to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, he or she has the right to be legally represented while pursuing a claim to assist in the process.

2013 a landmark year for the False Claims Act and fund recovery

There are many people who simply want to do the right thing but are afraid to do so in regards to corporate fraud against the government. However, some legislation, including the False Claims Act, allows employees to seek justice for corporate infractions without fear of retaliation. In 2013, over $3.8 billion in funds was reclaimed under the FCA, according to the Department of Justice. Designed to provide protective measures for individuals or companies who report those who defraud governmental programs, the Act is the federal government's primary tool in combatting fraud committed against it. Wisconsin workers can initiate federal government false claims actions and receive protection from retaliation.

Job transfer denial and violation of reasonable accommodation

It is no secret that Federal agencies are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with certain disabilities. Most people may not know the laws enacted to protect employees in the event that another position opens up within their place of employment that could better accommodate them. An employee in Wisconsin is entitled to reassignment as a reasonable accommodation if there is an open position for which the employee is qualified and if granting the job transfer would not disrupt the employer's seniority system.

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