Novartis to Settle Overtime Lawsuit

One of Novartis AG’s units has won a judge’s preliminary approval of a $99 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by sales representatives who allege the unit failed to pay them for overtime.

U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty of Manhattan tentatively approved the class action yesterday and includes over 7,000 current and former sales representatives. A final approval hearing will be held May 31. In a statement, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. president Andre Wyss said, “We believe this settlement is in the best interest of our employees and the company. We have been litigating this case for nearly six years and the company has determined that it is time to resolve these wage and hours claims.” Continue reading Novartis to Settle Overtime Lawsuit

Supreme Court decision allows Applebee’s employees to sue for lost wages

A Supreme Court decision allows employees who work primarily for tips and gratuity to file lawsuits against employers when they perform work that’s not tipped at rates below the minimum wage.

Servers like waitresses, waiters, bartenders and food prep workers often receive tips at work. Tipped employees are generally hired at special wage rates, far below the federal minimum wage. Employers can legally hire workers at server wages if those employees perform less than 20 percent of their work doing other jobs besides serving.

According to an AP report, the high court was deciding on an appeal filed by Applebee’s International, a restaurant chain, that sought to dismiss a lawsuit filed by more than 5,500 servers and bartenders who work or worked for the restaurant. Those servers claim they are forced to “open” and “close” Applebee’s restaurants on a daily basis, performing tasks that consume a large portion of their time at work. Tasks included cleaning and stocking restaurant supplies. That is time away from serving customers and missing out on potential tips, which an employer assumes make up the difference between their rate and minimum wage.

By dismissing the lawsuit, the Supreme Court is allowing the 5,500 employees to file lawsuits against Applebee’s in an attempt to collect due wages.

IRS Offering Amnesty to Workers Who Misclassified Workers as Independent Contractors

The Internal Revenue Service will allow employers to reclassify independent contractors as employees with minimal costs, thanks to a new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program.

Misclassified employees have been under the microscope of government agencies for some time now. Coordinated and targeted enforcement efforts were launched by the IRS and the Department of Labor in September, 2011. Prior to that, the IRS said it would focus on worker classification and employment tax audit initiative that was announced in February 2010. Continue reading IRS Offering Amnesty to Workers Who Misclassified Workers as Independent Contractors

MetLife, Prudential Lawsuit Seeks Damages for Unpaid Life Insurance Benefits

MetLife Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. are facing a whistleblower lawsuit that accuses the two companies of not turning over unclaimed life insurance policies to Illinois’ abandoned property department. The suit asks for more than $1 billion in damages on behalf of Illinois.

A Cook County, Ill., judge unsealed the lawsuit, which was followed in January of last year, last week which details how litigation stemming from unclaimed policies may haunt the life insurance industry long after some large companies settle state-to-state probes into possible violations. Continue reading MetLife, Prudential Lawsuit Seeks Damages for Unpaid Life Insurance Benefits

Walgreens faces racketeering, fraud charges in separate lawsuits

National pharmacy retailer Walgreens faces a class-action lawsuit on racketeering charges for over-charging for generic prescription drugs in an effort to generate larger profits.

According to a Fox News report, the lawsuit against Walgreens Co. and Par Pharmaceuticals Co. has been filed by United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Employers Midwest Health and Pension Fund. Both companies are identified as “union benefits groups” which manage pay-outs on union members’ health insurance bills. The lawsuit has been filed in the Northern District of Illinois in U.S. District Court. Continue reading Walgreens faces racketeering, fraud charges in separate lawsuits

CVS to Settle Medicare Charges

CVS Caremark has agreed to pay $5 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC alleges CVS misrepresented the price of some prescription drugs in one of its Medicare drug plans, which forced seniors to pay much higher prices than advertised. The Commission investigated the company for more than two years.

The FTC said it ended the query “after a thorough and comprehensive review of the other consumer protection and competition issues in this matter,” and won’t take any further action “at this time,” according to a letter addressed to CVS Caremark’s lawyer. Continue reading CVS to Settle Medicare Charges

Massachusetts May DNA Test Seafood to Fight Mislabeling

Massachusetts state officials are considering using DNA testing to fight the mislabeling of fish. They are also pondering the idea of banning the sale of escolar, and launching a pilot program in partnership with Legal Sea Foods to trace seafood through the food chain.

The Boston Globe in October printed the results of an investigation that revealed that seafood was widely misrepresented at restaurants, and lax government oversight. The publication hired a Canadian lab to conduct DNA tests on fish purchased by reporters throughout the Boston area. The results showed that nearly half we sold under the wrong species name, putting consumers at risk for allergic reactions, violating dietary restrictions, or ingesting chemicals banned in the U.S. Continue reading Massachusetts May DNA Test Seafood to Fight Mislabeling

Fresh Step Cat Litter Ads Called Misleading

Clorox has been ordered to stop airing “literally false” commercials claiming its Fresh Step cat litter leaves litter boxes smelling better than one of its competitors, Arm & Hammer Super Scoop. The ads imply that cats prefer to defecate in litter pans filled with Fresh Step verses pans willed with the Arm & Hammer litter.

Clorox agreed to stop broadcasting the commercials after Church & Dwight, the manufacturers of Arm & Hammer, sued the company. But then, last year, Clorox aired new commercials that showed carbon – the main odor-eliminating ingredient in Fresh Step – was more effective than baking soda, which is the main odor-eliminating ingredient in Arm & Hammer. Continue reading Fresh Step Cat Litter Ads Called Misleading

Hospice care, nursing home company accused of Medicare fraud

Federal prosecutors have joined a whistleblower lawsuit accusing a hospice care company of defrauding Medicare by enrolling people in its care who weren’t terminally ill or dying.

According to a report from Kaiser Health News at, federal attorneys are now suing AseraCare, accusing it of “milking” the federal health care provider. In the whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former nurse manager and office manager for AseraCare, the hospice, skilled nursing and home health company is accused of cycling its patients through a pre-determined course of care, even if it wasn’t needed. AseraCare received a maximum Medicare subsidy on each of its patients.

The whistleblowers said AseraCare would enroll patients in its skilled nursing care program and offered that service for 20 days. Medicare would pay the full price of that care and AseraCare continued that care for a patient even if it wasn’t needed. After 20 days, rather than saddle patients with more costs, the company would enroll those patients in either its home health care system, a nursing home or into hospice care, as Medicare continued to pay for the cost of the therapy, never questioning if it was needed. Continue reading Hospice care, nursing home company accused of Medicare fraud