The Veterans Choice Program offers veterans access to private care. The program was created in 2014 after Veterans Affairs had problems providing timely care. VA Secretary David Shulkin testified before a House panel recently that improvements to the Choice program have resulted in over 1 million out of 9 million veterans in the VA system using some Choice care. The program, however, will expire on August 7, 2017. It needs to be extended until it runs out of money in early 2018, and legislation to do so has been proposed by Senators Jon Tester, John McCain, and Johnny Isakson. Senator McCain explained: “Have no doubt: if we let this program lapse, more than a million veterans will lose their ability to visit a community provider, the VA system will once again become overwhelmed, and veterans will go back to the pre-scandal days of unending wait-times for much-needed care.” Part of Secretary Shulkin’s goals as head of the VA includes efforts to combat suicide and expand mental health care to service members who receive “other than honorable discharges” from the military. Such discharges include those for behavior problems, use of illegal drugs, or violence. He stated that he will expand… Continue Reading Veterans Choice Program Faces Demise
The 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that gay and lesbian employees are not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, therefore, can be discriminated against by employers because of their sexual orientation. Title VII currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin. Judge Bill Pryor, recently on President Trump’s short list to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy on the Supreme Court and former Alabama attorney general, drew a distinction between being gay and behaving as a gay person might. He stated that homosexuals cannot be discriminated against because of the way they dress or behave, but they can be discriminated against because they are homosexual. Judge Robin Rosenbaum in her dissenting opinion defined Judge Pryor’s argument as a “defiance of logic.” Title VII does not currently list sexual orientation as a protected class. However, a 2011 case that came before the 11th Circuit previously extended Title VII protections to transgender employees discriminated against because they do not comply with stereotypical norms of that person’s biological gender. Judge Pryor reasoned that such discrimination was based on a person’s behavior, which is not the same as discriminating… Continue Reading Workplace Discrimination Allowed for LGBT Employees
Billy Alumbaugh collected $63,000 in Veterans Affairs Disability Benefits before it was discovered that he wasn’t really blind. Specialists at the VA hospital in Wichita, Kansas were unable to find any medical reason for his supposed blindness, yet Mr. Alumbaugh claimed he could not drive and needed assistance for routine activities, including shopping for groceries, reading medication labels, and getting to doctors’ appointments. Mr. Alumbaugh was caught driving from one of his VA appointments and has since been charged by the Department of Justice along with his ex-wife with theft of government funds and conspiracy to defraud the government. Mr. Alumbaugh maintained a Kansas license that did not state he required corrective lenses and drove regularly from 2009 to 2016 while he was receiving a supplemental monthly pension from the VA. If convicted, Mr. Alumbaugh and the former Mrs. Alumbaugh face up to ten years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the theft charge and five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the conspiracy charge.
Richard Crawford, an army veteran from Lorain, Ohio who served tours of duty in Columbia and Iraq, now faces homelessness after the Department of Veterans Affairs demanded him to repay over $8,100 in disability overpayments for the last five years. The overpayments occurred because Mr. Crawford got divorced, and the VA never adjusted his disability payments, despite the many times Mr. Crawford notified the agency that he was no longer married. The repayment demand stops disability payments to Mr. Crawford for the next four months until the overpayment is reimbursed. In the meantime, Mr. Crawford will not be able to pay his rent and will become homelessness, a condition he faced numerous times when he lived in Washington and was not receiving disability benefits. He will also have little money left to pay for food and other necessities. Mr. Crawford is working with the Wounded Warrior Project to persuade the VA to set up a repayment plan rather than stop all payments until the overpayments have been recouped. As he explained: “There’s no justification for taking it all at once. They made a mistake over five years, fix it over five years.”
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (“FCA”) faces a discrimination class action lawsuit for the second time in as many months. In a lawsuit filed February 27, 2017 in the United States District Court, FCA allegedly mistreated older employees during their performance reviews. As a result, these older employees received fewer promotions and lower pay. The lawsuit claims that the pictures are used by upper-level managers who rarely interact with the workers they review; these managers give lower scores to employees over age 55, despite glowing reviews from the employees’ immediate supervisors. The plaintiff’s attorney, Shereef Akeel, explains: “The use of a photograph has no value in determining how well someone performed for a year. Someone can be judged by appearance rather than by their performance.” This lawsuit comes after another filed by a former diversity manager who alleges that for at least the years 2014 to 2017, FCA’s review process adversely affected older and black employees, resulting in lower scores on their evaluations than their younger and white co-workers.
Toi Patterson worked for Cushman & Wakefield for nine years as an administrative assistant and then senior administrator before she was fired for requesting a medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Ms. Patterson had been diagnosed with breast cancer and asked for a reasonable accommodation to work part time while she underwent treatment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charged that Ms. Patterson was fired by Cushman & Wakefield because of her disability rather than allow her to work part time or allow another reasonable accommodation be made to keep her employed. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, including unpaid leave or modifying the disabled employee’s work schedule, as long as doing so would not be a hardship for the company. Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate services firm with a global profile, employs over 43,000 people and has revenues of $5 billion. The firm has now settled with Ms. Patterson and will pay her $100,000 in restitution. As part of the settlement, Cushman & Wakefield must also comply with five additional terms: 1) the firm cannot violate the ADA again; 2) the firm must… Continue Reading $100,000 Settlement for Worker Fired Because of Disability
Our client “John Doe,” was initially denied 100 percent disability for PTSD after his military service on the grounds that his mental health problems were not service-related. Although on the surface John’s problems may have appeared to be unrelated to his service, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, was able to prove they were. “John had a disturbing story. He was abused as a child and as a result, encountered a medical problem until he was in his teens,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney. “When he was in the service, after being unable to complete a specified number of push-ups, which caused his unit to be punished with extra training, they decided to retaliate. “They held what they call a ‘blanket party,’ where he was badly beaten. After the beating his childhood medical problem returned and he eventually was given an early discharge.” When John returned to civilian life, he developed problems with the law, getting into multiple fights and suffering head injuries from being hit with crowbars and baseball bats. The Department of Veterans Affairs denied John’s PTSD claim because they believed it was a post-service condition. “Under appeal, we showed that John’s trouble with the law was a symptom of… Continue Reading Veteran receives $116,938 in back benefits after initial denial of 100 percent disability
It’s a serious matter when you or someone you love has been injured due to the negligence of someone else. You want to make the right decisions in filing a personal injury lawsuit to make sure you get the most compensation possible to cover the mental and physical pain you have suffered. Here are five guidelines to consider when you file your case: The injuries you sustained: The more serious your injury, the more compensation you should be awarded. Injuries that affect your ability to work and your lifestyle, and require ongoing medical care, will warrant higher settlements than injuries that have less impact on your life. Pre-existing conditions: If you have been injured previously and the more recent accident worsens the problem or re-injures you, the insurance company will try to pay less by arguing the injury existed before the accident. It may be necessary to prove the accident you’ve just been through has made the injury worse. Location, location, location: This is important because different judges and juries look upon personal injury cases in different ways. Some are more liberal and will award higher damages, others are more conservative. Even if you settle out of court, the local… Continue Reading Thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit? Think about these guidelines