In Cuff v. Trans State Holdings, Inc., a Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") case, the Seventh Circuit recently awarded the employee, Cuff, $331,000 in attorneys' fees, costs and interest even though Cuff's damages were only $43,000. The Court's justification for such remedies was that, "the defense had not done its homework; it was content to leave the labor to Cuff's team and the judge ... for issue after issue." The main issue in this case was that workers are covered by the FMLA when they are jointly employed by multiple firms that collectively have 50 or more workers, and that firms may be treated as a single employer when they operate a joint business. There were several indicators that Cuff worked for both operations. Cuff was the "regional manager" of the three firms and his business card bore the logos of all three firms. Moreover, Cuff had been hired to provide services to both air carriers.
Both Wisconsin employees as well as those persons seeking a job in the state may be interested in the requirements placed on employers in order to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law uses the term 'reasonable accommodation" when describing what an employer must do in order to facilitate someone with needs either applying for or performing a job.
A Wisconsin employee may face issues at times that demand personal attention. In the past, personal time might be taken to address these issues, but those who did not have such time built into their terms of employment could face negative work-related consequences for missing work to deal with family issues. However, the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act facilitates these needs in certain work environments without employees having to worry about being penalized.
Wisconsin residents who are no longer able to work may be interested in learning more about long-term disability benefits. The law provides for two types of disability benefits, both of which are administered through the Social Security Administration. Social Security Disability Insurance is a benefit available to workers that contributed to Social Security and who become unable to work for an extended period of time. The other benefit is Supplemental Security Income, which is a need-based program. Injured workers must meet eligibility requirements to receive SSI.
Under Wisconsin's Fair Employment Law, harassment can take two distinct forms in the workplace. The first type of harassment involves an employer singling out an employee based on factors such as their age, sex or sexual orientation. Another type of harassment occurs when an employer harasses based on these items. For example, making a crude sexual joke or making fun of a certain religion may fall under the second form of harassment.
The Family and Medical Leave Act enables workers who are dealing with health issues to leave work as necessary. This act may also apply to workers who need to leave work to deal with health issues of family members. Both the federal government and the state of Wisconsin have their own versions of the FMLA. While many provisions are the same in both cases, the state version differs from the federal version in some respects.
Wisconsin residents might be interested to learn about a settlement that was reached in a false country of origin lawsuit involving medical device manufacturer Smith & Nephew. On Sept. 3, the London-based company agreed to settle a lawsuit with the U.S. government by paying $11.3 million in damages. In 2008, the company was accused of selling Malaysian-made orthopedic devices to the Department of Veterans Affairs and falsely claiming they were made in the United States.
Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on a disability of an employee or job applicant. Disability discrimination is governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the protections offered by the act, employers may not treat a person less favorably because of a belief that he or she has a disability or a history of disability. Discrimination is prohibited with regard to pay rates, job assignments, hiring and firing decisions, promotions, layoffs, fringe benefits and other employment related matters.
Wisconsin employees may want to know more about an Aug. 29 announcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has made its first whistle-blower award to an employee involved in audit and compliance activities. The award, which was reported to be in excess of $300,000, was for information the employee provided to the SEC on wrongdoings at the employee's company. According to the announcement, the employee provided the information to the SEC after the company failed to act on the employee's discoveries.