Although most Americans believe that it is illegal to fire someone on the basis of sexual orientation, only 21 states, including Wisconsin, have made it illegal for employers to do so. Even in some states where employees cannot be fired on that basis, some small businesses are exempt. In some cases, a company may need to have 15 or more employees before that rule takes effect.
Wisconsin employees may be interested in an article discussing some of the issues surrounding disability insurance in America. Even though more employers are offering this type of insurance, fewer employees appear to be taking advantage of these benefits.
The United States Supreme Court unanimously decided to overturn part of a lower court's ruling rejecting the claim of a former community college official who attributed his firing to retaliation for his testimony against a state representative. The ruling could inform the handling of many future whistleblowing cases in Wisconsin and nationwide.
Wisconsin employers and employees may want to note that 14 different jurisdictions in the United States now have requirements that specifically address accommodations that must be made in the workplace for pregnant workers. Some of the requirements are at the local level, and others cover all employers in the state. Some requirements are imposed on employers with as few as one employee, and others put requirements on employers with a larger number of workers.
Some residents of Wisconsin may be familiar with the process of applying for Social Security Disability. Currently, nearly 11 million disabled people receive Social Security Disability benefits, and an additional 8.4 million receive Supplemental Security Income. However, some analysts believe that the Social Security Disability program is nearing insolvency and that action will need to be taken to prevent a 20 percent reduction in benefits by 2016.
The article, dated June 13, 2014, can be viewed here: Olson feature.pdf.
Wisconsin veterans may be concerned about multiple whistleblowers who have alleged that they faced retaliation after coming forward with stories of patient abuse and mismanagement at several VA facilities. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has received 37 complaints from VA employees. The OSC - the agency investigating the claims involving VA facilities in 19 states - says that there appears to be a culture that punishes whistleblowers. Since May 15, the website VAOversight.org has received around 640 submissions, around 20 percent of which were filed by former and current VA employees.
In a scandal that affects facilities in Wisconsin and across the nation, the Office of Special Counsel is looking into 37 claims of retaliation against those who reported problems at the Veterans Affairs Department. The alleged whistleblower incidents have occurred at VA facilities across 19 states. Employees claim they have suffered retaliation after reporting incidents that include poor handling of money, not following scheduling procedures and the inappropriate restraint of patients.
Employees in Wisconsin may be interested in the recent case of a former St. Louis police chemist who was awarded $175,000 on claims she was fired for being a whistleblower. After a weeklong trial in St. Louis Circuit Court, the jury concluded that the chemist was terminated for pointing out errors in the crime lab's drug testing processes.
Sometimes a family member becomes unexpectedly ill and a person has to leave work to care for the individual. The situation typically is already stressful enough without having to worry about possibly losing one’s job as a result of the extended leave of absence. This is why the Family and Medical Leave Act is so critical for workers in Wisconsin and throughout the country: It protects them from losing their positions if they have to be gone from the office for several weeks. Going forward, employers are going to be held increasingly responsible for abiding by FMLA laws.