Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee recently approved a modification to the state budget bill, 2013 Assembly Bill 40, for 2013-2015 that substantially curtails unemployment benefits to Wisconsin workers. The modification broadens the definition of misconduct for the purpose of disqualifying workers for unemployment benefits. Since 1941, misconduct was defined as conduct that shows a willful and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or is not within the standards of behavior employers have a right to expect of all employees. The new definition redefines misconduct as “substantial fault.” Substantial fault would include acts or omissions of an employee over which the employee exercised reasonable control and which violate reasonable requirements of the employee’s employer. Other changes to the bill would eliminate many of the existing circumstances where an employee that must quit a position can recover benefits and lengthens the disqualification periods that workers must satisfy before becoming eligible for benefits again. This is a significant shift towards disqualifying more workers from benefits for longer periods.
The legislature was also busy with a separate bill recently passed, Assembly Bill 219/Senate Bill 200, which imposes further requirements on unemployment recipients and additional bases to disqualify unemployed workers.
These changes come at a difficult time for unemployed workers in Wisconsin. The state fell to 44th in the nation in job creation in March according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and 49th in economic outlook according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
If you are a Wisconsin resident and the victim of identity theft or fraud, you have the right to place Security Freeze on your consumer files with the 3 national consumer credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. This makes it harder for anyone to use your consumer information through the agencies to open new credit accounts. You can place the Security Freeze on your consumer files by contacting the three agencies and reporting the fraud and requesting the Security Freeze. It costs $10 for each agency. More information on this process is at http://datcp.wi.gov/uploads/Consumer/pdf/IDTheftCreditFreezeFAQ632.pdf. Sample letters to each agency are available at www.privacy.wi.gov, which allow you to fill in your personal information and print the letters for mailing.
The contact information for placing a Security Freeze alert is:
Equifax: CSC Credit Services
PO Box 674438
Houston, TX 77267-4438
Experian: Experian Security Freeze
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion : TransUnion Security Freeze
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Under Federal law, you are also entitled to place a Fraud Alert on your consumer files and a free copy of your consumer file, known as a “consumer disclosure,” after you are the victim of fraud. For more information on your rights under Federal law, see our Blog entry on How to Secure Your Credit Reports After Identity Theft under Federal Law.
If you are the victim of identity theft or fraud, you have the right to place a fraud alert on your consumer files with the 3 national consumer credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. This makes it harder for anyone to use your consumer information through the agencies to open new credit accounts. You can place the fraud alert on your consumer files by contacting one of the three agencies and reporting the fraud and requesting the fraud alert. More information on this process is at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/helpfaq#fraudalert. You are also entitled to a free copy of your consumer file, known as a “consumer disclosure,” after you are the victim of fraud. You can request this at the time you place the fraud alert.
The contact information for placing a fraud alert is:
- Equifax: 1-877-576-5734; www.alerts.equifax.com
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/fraud
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
If you are a resident of Wisconsin, you may also have the right to place a Security Freeze on your files. See our Blog entry on How to Secure Your Credit Reports After Identity Theft under Wisconsin Law for more information.
Can I take time off from work at my job to vote in Wisconsin without getting fired? Do you know the answer to that question? Take a look at our article, Time to Vote, Your Job and Your Rights in Wisconsin, on our website at http://www.celcwi.com/wisconsin_law_permitting_employees_time_vote.html, principally authored by Wyatt D. Dittburner, to learn more.
Wyatt discusses why employees in Wisconsin can take up to 3 successive hours off of work to vote without fear of being fired if the employee provides the employer notice before Election Day and goes at a time set by the employer. If the employer refuses to permit someone to take time off to vote or disciplines someone for taking time off to vote, like firing them, the affected employee may be entitled to bring a claim against the employer for harms that result.
By Gordon Leech
Tenant or Rental screening reports are used by many landlords. These reports usually fall within the definition of a report covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act which gives consumers tenants significant rights. Inaccurate reports can wrongly keep a consumer from getting a rental place to live. When these tenant or rental screening reports are inaccurate, consumer tenants may have claims against the screening company that sold the inaccurate reports to the prospective landlords. In a case filed in the United States District Court for Southern District of New York by Debra Massey against On-site Manager, Inc., the court approved a class action settlement against On-site Manager, Inc., for the payment of funds to class members across the country on this basis.
Debra Massey claimed that On-site Manager sold tenant screening reports to prospective landlords and included inaccurate or outdated information such as civil actions filed against consumers that never resulted in a judgment and that were more than 7 years old. This is a practice that is prohibited by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
For more information on the use of consumer reports such as a tenant screening report in the rental of consumer properties, you can visit our website pages on consumer credit reports at http://www.celcwi.com/help_inaccurate_credit_reports.html.
By Gordon Leech 10/29/2012
Did you know that an employer is legally responsible for keeping track of your work hours and maintaining these records? Even still, I have found that employers in violation of the Wage and Hour laws, particularly those that mis-classify an employee as exempt from overtime pay or that pay employees under the table, without making any of the legally required contributions to social security, unemployment or overtime pay, don’t keep track of hours. An employer’s failure to abide by its legal obligation to make and maintain your work hours may benefit it if you have a claim for unpaid overtime wages or minimum wages because the employer will argue that you did not work the claimed hours. Having your own record of hours worked can help in these situations, but is not necessarily required under the law for an overtime or minimum wage pay claim.
If you want to track your hours each week, the U.S. Department of Labor has made it easy. It created an application for the IPhone that is available for free. You can find out more about wage laws and how to download this free application at our website page on Unpaid Overtime Law by following this link: http://www.celcwi.com/upaid_overtime_wages.html
I consider the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with serious health conditions, one of the most important laws we have in employee rights. Cases of disability discrimination are often the most compelling cases I come across. Don Boswell, an attorney and good friend of mine, represents Mr. Cupid. Sysco, Mr. Cupid’s former employer, terminated his employment just days after Mr. Cupid discovered he needed and was qualified for a kidney transplant, as reported by The Palm Beach Post wrote an article regarding this matter. Here is a link to the story:
The impact of the termination in this case is extreme. Not only did Mr. Cupid lose his economic stability, he lost his health insurance and was taken off the transplant list as a result.
If Mr. Cupid proves his claim, the ADA can restore him to his position at Sysco and provide compensation for his lost wages and non-economic harms. It cannot, however, restore the injury to his health in the meantime.
For more information about discrimination in employment and your rights under Federal and Wisconsin law, visit our page here at http://wisconsin-consumer.com/employment-rights-in-wisconsin/.
David Lazarus, a columnist that writes for the L.A. Times, recently wrote about his own experience with Identity Theft that occurred 15 years ago but still plagues him today. A copy of his article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 4, 2012, is at http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/yourmoney/la-fi-lazarus-20120904,0,3447151,full.column. It’s a familiar tale with victims of identity theft, unfortunately. It’s a good read to understand why it is important to check your own consumer credit reports at least once each year, which you can do for free, and look for any accounts listed that you did not open or on which you are not an account holder.
There are steps you can take too that if done soon enough can prevent many problems that can result with identity theft. If that is a problem for you, we have more information on identity theft on our website, www.celcwi.com.
The federal court of appeals for the 8th Circuit recently decided an important case addressing whether an insurance plan could recoup payments it made for an insured against the insured’s law firm after the insured recovered for his claims. The Eighth Circuit rejected the plan’s claims against the law firm.
In Treasurer, Trustees of Drury Industries, Inc., v. Goding; Casey & Devoti, P.C., (8th Cir., No. 11-2885, 9/7/2012), an ERISA plan attempted to recoup against an insured’s law firm the benefits it paid out for the insured’s treatment after the insured recovered in a civil claim related to a slip and fall accident. The insured filed and obtained a discharge of the plan’s claim through bankruptcy. The plan then sued the insured’s law firm from the slip and fall claim. The Eighth Circuit held that the plan could not recover against the insured’s attorney under the contractual subrogation provision of the contract with the insured because the attorney was not party to the plan. The court also rejected the plan’s theory under equity and a state cause of action for conversion against the law firm.
Here is a link to the Justia summary and the decision: http://j.st/7Y4
When someone else is using your social security number for employment purposes, it presents a difficult situation to resolve. While the answer to how to stop this from continuing is not clear, there are some things you can do.
You can contact the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service to notify them of the fraud, as you want to avoid tax liability on this imposter’s wages. Also, the imposter could potentially open credit using your SSN, which would cause you additional problems. So you can contact the consumer reporting agencies to report fraud and ask them to put a fraud alert on your consumer file. Every employer is also required to verify the identity of an employee using a form I-9, which is governed by the Dept. of Homeland Security, formerly the INS, so you could notify the Dept. of Homeland Security. Also, the Federal Trade Commission accepts complaints of identity theft, as they keep a database and cross-reference complaints for potential action. You can attempt to file a police report of the fraud, but the local police department may not accept the report, as many are reluctant to do so if there doesn’t appear to be an economic loss associated with the matter.
Providing the identity of the employers where the fraudster worked and to these agencies may help get some interest going on to investigate to help you find out the identity of the person using the SSN.
The FTC has a very good guide on what to do when your identity has been stolen. Anyone that is victimized by identity theft should review that site and follow its recommendations.
For more information on what you can do, visit our website page on Identity Theft at http://www.celcwi.com/page33.html.