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Providence Employment And Whistleblower Law Blog

Rhode Island Supreme Court issues ruling in Facebook firing

The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently issued a verdict four to one in favor of a Warwick resident who lost his job after posting a negative opinion of his boss on Facebook. According to the court, the man is eligible to receive unemployment insurance due to the fact that the state could not show that the man's Facebook post was connected to his workplace.

The man was a driver for an area auto supply enterprise. He had worked there for four years, but was let go in March 2013 . Prior to being let go, he let his boss know he disagreed with the company's new policy on accidents and also that he was not reimbursed for overtime he felt he was owed. The man's boss gave him a written warning. The man posted a negative opinion about his boss on Facebook, but had blocked his boss from seeing his Facebook posts. The man's boss then asked another person to show him the post, and subsequently let the man go.

What to look out for on your next job application

When you’re looking for a job, you may not be concerned about whether an application has illegal questions. More importantly, you may not even know when an employer crosses the line and asks you things that could lead to discriminatory hiring decisions. But ignorance should not a reason to throw away one’s rights when it comes to finding a job.  

As such, this post will focus on what job seekers should look out for on applications. 

4 ways to tell if you are a victim of a hostile work environment

Workers subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace may be eligible to file a lawsuit if the conduct creates a hostile work environment.

Unfortunately, as noted in this FindLaw article, there is no fixed rule for what constitutes a hostile working environment. Even in cases where it might seem obvious, arguing that you are the victim of harassment can be difficult. However, there are guides to help people determine if they are in a hostile work environment. Below are the elements that should be in place to make this argument.

Medicare Advantage Whistleblower Cases Pile Up

UnitedHealth Group in the spotlight

A whistleblower who formerly worked at UnitedHealth Group in Minnesota has claimed that UnitedHealth has been gaming the Medicare Advantage payment system. Advantage is a program whereby private insurers provide coverage for members, but are compensated by Medicare according to codes documenting how sick patients are, and how much treatment they require. The whistleblower, Benjamin Poehling of Bloomington, Minnesota, claimed that UnitedHealth used electronic records to make patients look sicker than they actually were. The sicker the patient, the higher the payments UnitedHealth received from Medicare Advantage. This led to higher profits and bigger bonuses for employees. A judge unsealed the lawsuit filed by Poehling against UnitedHealth and 14 other participants in February.

Will reporting unlawful workplace activities endanger your job?

No one wants to put his or her job in danger. Yet how can an employee remain silent in the face of an employer’s unlawful workplace activities? Fortunately, whistleblower protections solve this catch-22.

Whistleblower protections apply in a variety of contexts

Should your past salary dictate your new salary?

At some point in a job search process, your potential employer might put you in a tight spot by inquiring about your past salary. This question can be very harrowing, especially if you were hoping for a significant pay increase with your new position.  Additionally, the question might not seem to make sense if the new position would have different responsibilities, or is in a different industry than your current job. Employers who base a new employee’s salary on their past salary could also unwittingly perpetuate a gender pay gap.

There is as of yet no national worker protection against employers using past salary history as a determinant of new salary, although Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a House bill in 2016 that would do just that.  Meanwhile, some states and cities have started to act on their own.

Blowing The Whistle On Medicaid Fraud

Medicaid is a taxpayer-supported federal program that enables low-earning Americans to obtain health coverage. Therefore, when a healthcare provider or insurer manipulates the admittedly complicated system to reap financial benefit, taxpayers take the hit. It is essential to stay on top of this kind of illegal activity and to protect those whistleblowers who have the morality and courage to step forward.

What Is A Whistleblower?

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