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Milwaukee Wisconsin Employment Law Blog

State and federal family leave options

At any time, a person in Wisconsin might find themselves needing to take time away from a job in order to tend to a personal or family matter. In some situations, such leave is provided under either the state or federal family and medical leave laws. While the concept of both laws is similar in that employees are guaranteed the right to take this time off for qualifying events without fear of losing their jobs, there are differences that people should understand.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides up to 12 weeks per year of time away from work to an employee. This may be used to care for a newborn or for a child recently adopted or accepted into a family as a foster child. It may also be used when an employee needs to care for an ill or injured parent, spouse or child or to attend to one's own medical needs.

Family and Medical Leave Act supports addiction treatment

For individuals suffering with addiction, treatment has not always been easy to come by. Persons with addictions face stigma, lack of access and concerns about losing their job. Substance use disorder is a protected disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as long as the individual is no longer using or if they are in a treatment program. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can also support people who need time off from their job to participate in addiction treatment. A recent news story shares how people in Wisconsin and other states may use this federal law to support their recovery. 

Many addicts do not seek treatment due to lack of health insurance or fears about losing their job. At least 9 percent of full-time workers suffer from substance use disorder. Addiction disorders can require extensive treatment, and the FMLA supports those individuals by allowing them to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave away from their job for medical treatment without the danger of losing their employment. 

Was your termination an illegal one?

Working in an at-will state like Illinois means employers can fire you for any reason they see fit. They do not have to provide you with prior notice before dismissing you from your position. This can make it hard for you to know if there was justification for your termination. If your employer fires you without warning, all is not lost. The law does offer you some protections against wrongful termination

Here is a brief overview of wrongful terminations. 

Wisconsin legislature ponders construction wage and hour laws

State government is looking at ways to become more cost effective for big budget projects. Currently, the Wisconsin legislature is considering changes to prevailing wage and hour laws, citing imperfect methods of computing the prevailing wage. Proponents of the change argue that by repealing prevailing wage laws, tax dollar waste will be reduced and big budget state infrastructure projects will become more affordable. One recent news article comments on the wage issue in depth. 

The article mentions that wage repeal has been in progress since 2015, when prevailing wage laws were repealed for local government projects. A prevailing wage is the mean wage paid to workers for a particular job across the state. When a contractor wins the government bid for the job, the company agrees to pay workers the prevailing wage or that company will face penalties. 

Workplace discrimination complaint filed by Wisconsin officer

A recent news story tells about a police officer who has filed a complaint related to mistreatment she suffered on the job. The Wisconsin officer reportedly experienced workplace discrimination when she did not receive help after reporting ongoing harassment to her supervisors. Two officers have resigned in the aftermath of the complaint, and the woman has been moved to another shift, giving hope to others that their claims of harassment can be taken seriously when the right agencies are involved. 

The complainant worked the overnight shift and began to experience problems with a few of her fellow co-workers. One officer in particular allegedly verbally harassed the woman and even pushed her. She reported being pranked and having her calls canceled for no reason. When she reported the antics to her supervisors, she did not receive a satisfactory response. 

Wisconsin city council weighs sexual harassment policies

Some people are asking whether the city council should be held to the same level of professional accountability as other city employees. The issue has come up in the Madison, Wisconsin city meetings before. The question is, are city council members employees or are they some other type of worker? A recent news story reports that some feel it is time for them to be considered employees and not exempt from employer sexual harassment trainings.

One alderman plans to introduce a resolution that would make himself and his 19 colleagues subject to the same administrative rules and training requirements as other city employees. A similar resolution was shot down in 2015 by a committee of aldermen, with the council president arguing that since city council members were not eligible for benefits or pension, that they were not employees. However, since then the city council has acquired significant raises and additional staffing.

How Chicago shined a light on excessive force

The news is full of controversy. It’s nearly impossible to watch the news without hearing a story that sparks debate. We live in a time of marches, protests and movements. The news is filled with segments on refugees, terrorism and civil rights.

Police brutality has been a large topic of discussion. In a world filled with technology, millions of people see videos, pictures and streams from across the country in a matter of seconds. Citizens have begun to document their encounters with police. Sometimes, bystanders have live-streamed or taped incidents as they happen. Many news stories center around excessive force, especially in Chicago.

Workplace discrimination guidelines for high status workers

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 laid some important guidelines for workers. Title VII of the federal law protects workers against workplace discrimination. But high-ranking workers in Wisconsin, such as executive and law firm partners, may be wondering whether their position is considered employer or employee. A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Clackamas case has laid out guidelines for courts to determine whether a worker is an employee or an employer, and therefore whether the individual is protected against certain forms of workplace discrimination. 

The overarching theme in determining whether one is considered an employee or an employer is how much control a worker has over the work environment. In the 2003 Clackamas Gastroenterology Associates vs. Wells case, the Supreme Court endorsed a six-factor test, based on the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission guidelines, to determine whether a person is an employee or an employer.

Wisconsin county tackles sexual harassment

Knowledge is power. That is how one Wisconsin county has chosen to approach the issue of sexual harassment among its employees. Sexual harassment training is incorporated into the county, with county employees and board members receiving the class on harassment. 

Door County board members were told that they have an excellent policy when it comes to sexual harassment. The county has decided to provide training to reduce losses from harassment claims. Employees receive the full training, and board members get an abbreviated session during the county meeting. The training is taught by a representative of the Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance Corporation. 

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