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EEOC: Home health employee fired because she got sick

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under Businesses in hot water Updated: March 24, 2014 - 3:00 PM

A home health care provider was sued in federal court Monday after it allegedly fired a Mankato-area employee who was seen walking with a cane.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit accusing Baywood Home Care of discriminating against Laurie Goodnough, who has fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. 

John Rowe, the EEOC’s Chicago district director, said that in early November 2011, two other Baywood employees allegedly saw Goodnough walking with a cane and complained to Baywood Home Care’s owner. Those complaints led directly to Goodnough’s termination on Nov. 9, Rowe said.

“There does not seem to have been any interactive process here for the employer and employee to assess whether Goodnough’s use of a cane interfered with her ability to perform her job, or to consider some other reasonable accommodation for her disability,” Rowe said in a statement.  “Instead, it was simply ‘out the door.’”

Dorothy Muffett, Baywood’s owner and founder, said Monday she was not aware of the lawsuit and would not comment on Goodnough’s allegations.

Andy Tanick, an attorney for Baywood, said the company "does not discriminate on the basis of disability or any other legally-protected characteristic, and did not do so with regard to Ms. Goodnough. We are confident that the court will agree."

That lawsuit claims Baywood violated Goodnough’s civil rights because it did not offer a reasonable accommodation for her disability. In addition to the discrimination against Goodnough, the lawsuit also claimed Baywood engaged in another form of discrimination by asking job applicants if they have a disability and what was the severity of their disability.

According to a Star Tribune article published last year, Baywood Home Care offers hourly assistance, 24-hour live-in care and overnight care. It places home health aides in the Twin Cities metro area, south-central and southwestern Minnesota. The company has 150 employees, including nurses who provide case oversight.

Beware of Snapchat Scams

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: March 19, 2014 - 4:51 PM

Snapchat users were warned this week to beware of messages sent from unknown users saying you’ve won a prize.

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers have figured out a way to misuse Snapchat, a popular photo and video sharing mobile-phone application.

The scammers send users a photo saying they have won a prize and then give instructions to go to a website. The BBB said the websites instruct users to choose from a list of smartphone apps and download one.

“This could just be a unscrupulous way to generate app downloads,” said the BBB, also warning that the apps could contain malware.

Snapchat users are advised to change their settings to only receive snaps from approved friends.

BBB warns about massage business

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: March 17, 2014 - 5:38 PM

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota issued a warning Friday about Stephanie Lasch, a massage business owner in the Twin Cities, after customers complained about unjustified charges and worthless gift certificates.

In January, the BBB saw a spike in complaints against Lasch’s StoneWater Massage and Skin Care in Lino Lakes after the business closed and consumers were unable to redeem gift certificates. 

That same month, the Lino Lakes Police Department posted an alert on its Facebook page saying it was investigating  allegations of fraudulent electronic charges appearing on accounts of StoneWater customers. At that time, Lino Lakes Police believed there were at least 50 victims.

Lasch could not be reached Monday for comment.

Robocaller “Tom” banned by FTC

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: March 12, 2014 - 3:47 PM

The company behind robocaller “Tom with home protection” has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for making illegal calls to millions of consumers on the National Do Not Call registry.

Versatile Marketing Solutions, based in Massachusetts, was banned from making “abusive” telemarketing calls or calling anyone on the Do Not Call registry after it called millions of consumers to pitch home security systems.

Versatile Marketing Solutions bought a list of phone numbers from a different company and did not check the numbers against the registry. Even after consumers complained about the calls, the FTC said the company continued to buy phone numbers from the same company.

Company fined for deceiving diabetics

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under Advertising claims Updated: March 10, 2014 - 9:48 PM

A California company claiming to have discovered a “diabetes breakthrough” was fined $2.2 million for making deceptive claims, the Federal Trade Commission announced last week.

A federal judge in the Northern District of California found Wellness Support Network Inc. made deceptive claims when marketing its “diabetic pack” and “insulin resistance pack” of dietary supplements. 

The FTC said the company claimed the diabetic pack was a treatment for diabetes, and the insulin resistance pack was a way of preventing diabetes. But the two packs contained identical blends of vitamins, minerals and plan extracts, according to the FTC.

The case is part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to stop companies from making unsupported claims that natural remedies can cure serious diseases.

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