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Wisconsin Supreme Court Holds State Law Precludes Pay for Normal Commute Time in Employer-Provided Vehicles

Reversing a decision of the lower appellate court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that state law does not require employers to pay employees for routine commute time driving company-provided vehicles between the employees’ homes and their assigned jobsites.

Wisconsin LIRC Determines Even Very Upsetting Criminal Convictions May Not Be Substantially Related to the Job

Wisconsin employers deciding whether to hire an applicant with a criminal background often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. If they fail to take reasonable care screening the applicant, they may face a negligent hiring claim. But if they screen too stringently, they may face a claim that they violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, which prohibits discriminating against applicants with a conviction record that does not substantially relate to the job.

New Wisconsin Governor Launches Worker Misclassification Enforcement Effort

Within his first few months of taking office, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has signaled a strong and clear focus on employers that have misclassified workers as independent contractors. On April 15, 2019, Governor Evers issued Executive Order 20 (EO), creating a joint task force of leaders from key state agencies, including the state’s Attorney General’s office, the Department of Revenue (DOR), and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), with representation from the Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights and Workers’ Compensation divisions.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Holds Carrying "Necessary and Indispensable" Tools in a Company Van Does Not Make a Commute Compensable

Last year, a Wisconsin court of appeals held that it was unsettled under Wisconsin law whether employers may be required to pay employees for time spent driving between home and work in company vans if the vans are also transporting work tools and equipment. The plaintiffs maintained that their workdays commenced the moment they left home at the beginning of each workday because they were transporting tools necessary and indispensable to the principal activity of their jobs. The plaintiffs argued that the company’s duty to pay employees for this time arose from the statutory mandate that “[e]very employer shall . . . pay to every employee engaged in the employer’s business . . . all wages earned by the employee.” (Wis. Stat. Sec. 109.03(1).)

Up in Smoke? New Wisconsin Governor Proposes Marijuana Legalization and Host of New Employment Laws

Wisconsin employers reviewing Governor Tony Evers’ very first budget proposal may be surprised by the number of the employment-related items. The substance of those proposals may also catch employers by surprise, with some observers viewing the Evers budget as an effort to erase the employer-friendly legacy of the former governor, Scott Walker. Presented to the state legislature on February 28, 2019, the Evers budget proposes more than a return to the pre-Walker era, however. If the new governor’s budget proposal is an indication of his legislative and enforcement priorities, Wisconsin employers should closely consider its specifics.

PODCAST: Wisconsin FMLA vs. Federal FMLA in a Nutshell

In this episode, Keith Kopplin and Sarah Platt compare Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and discuss the key differences and top things employers should know.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Ends Required Deference to State Administrative Agencies' Interpretations, Allowing Employers to Push for Broader Review of Agency Decisions

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently reversed its nearly half-century practice of deferring to state administrative agencies’ interpretations of the laws the agencies are responsible for enforcing. Based on the decision in Tetra Tech EC, Inc. v. DOR,1 Wisconsin courts need now only consider the agency interpretations’ persuasive value, but give them no deference. This shift likely will permit affected parties to more substantively challenge agencies’ interpretations of law in the state court system.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Employees Who Violate Attendance Policies May Not Be Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

Wisconsin employers that have found themselves frustrated by the fact that they can end an employment relationship for legitimate, business-related reasons yet the employee can still collect unemployment benefits were granted some relief by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in one of its final decisions of the 2017–2018 term. In Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development v. Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission, No. 2016AP1365 (June 26, 2018) (also known as Beres), the court examined a 2013 change to the Wisconsin statute controlling an individual’s disqualification from unemployment benefits and whether an employee may be denied such benefits based on an employer’s attendance policy that is stricter than the statutory standard. The court concluded that the statutory number of absences by an employee that will result in disqualification from unemployment benefits may be overridden by an employer’s written policy that implements a stricter standard.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Focuses on Employer’s Actual Knowledge in Disability Discrimination Ruling

In a recent opinion, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin rejected the “inference method” of causation that the Labor and Industry Review Commission has used for more than two decades to find liability in cases in which an employer takes adverse action against an employee for conduct that the employee claims was caused by a disability. The court concluded that the inference method of causation is inconsistent with the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) because it relieves the employee of the burden of proving discriminatory intent. Wisconsin Bell, Inc. v. Labor and Industry Review Commission, No. 2016AP355 (June 26, 2018).

Wisconsin Supreme Court Holds That State Disability Discrimination Law Requires Proof of Intent to Establish Liability

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently overturned a longstanding line of cases that allowed disabled employees to prevail in discrimination cases without proving the employer intended to discriminate or was even aware that the employee was disabled. On June 26, 2018, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Wisconsin Bell, Inc. v. Labor and Industry Review Commission and Charles Carlson (Carlson).1 The case involves the Labor and Industry Review Commission’s (“LIRC”) expansive definition of what it means to discriminate against employees “because of” a disability under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (“WFEA”).