Ogletree Deakins • February 12, 2018
While all eyes have rightfully been focused on Washington, D.C., during the recent and ongoing drama surrounding the government shutdown, in Madison, the Wisconsin Legislature is poised to take action on two measures that may have a significant impact on Wisconsin employers. In the first bill, the Wisconsin Legislature seeks to prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing certain employment regulations at the local level. If passed, this bill could summarily put an end to the Madison Equal Opportunity Ordinance. In the second bill, the Wisconsin Legislature would exempt from the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) any employer that is also covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These significant proposals are in keeping with other employer initiatives enacted during Governor Walker’s tenure.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • February 01, 2018
On January 19, 2018, a divided Wisconsin Supreme Court held that an employee non-solicitation covenant was overly broad and unenforceable under state law. In the decision, entitled The Manitowoc Company, Inc. v. Lanning, Case No. 2015AP1530 (Wisc. Jan. 19, 2018), the Court confirmed Wisconsin Statute §103.465, which governs covenants not to compete, extends to agreements not to solicit employees. Because the employee non-solicitation covenant did not meet the statutory criteria for valid non-competes, the Court held it unenforceable in its entirety, “even as to any part of the covenant that would be a reasonable restraint.”
Ogletree Deakins • January 28, 2018
On January 9, 2018, District III of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that temporary workers who are injured while working for their host employers have the right to elect either to claim workers’ compensation benefits or to sue their host employers in tort. The decision turns on its head the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act’s exclusive remedy provision, exposes thousands of employers in Wisconsin to tort liability that they previously did not have or anticipate having, and threatens general liability insurance carriers with risks they never anticipated accepting or priced their premiums to take into account. In Re the Estate of Carolos Esterley Cerrato Rivera v. West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, No. 2017AP142.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • January 22, 2018
In Wisconsin, post-employment restrictive covenants are governed by Wis. Stat. § 103.465, requiring that any restrictive covenant be reasonable to be enforceable.1
Ogletree Deakins • January 10, 2018
The Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission recently issued a highly controversial decision, Xu v. Epic Systems, Inc., holding that (1) an employee cannot waive the right to file a discrimination complaint against her or his employer under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA), and (2) an employee may prosecute WFEA claims on the merits against her or his former employer—and potentially receive a judgment against the former employer before the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division (ERD)—even if he or she waived and released any and all such claims against his or her employer in a valid severance agreement.
Ogletree Deakins • November 30, 2017
On November 21, 2017, the De Pere city council added to Wisconsin’s list of municipalities with local nondiscrimination ordinances. For employers, the De Pere ordinance creates a unique protected class in Wisconsin: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. De Pere, Wisconsin, employers will need to comply with the new ordinance when it takes effect on March 1, 2018.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 24, 2017
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently reaffirmed long-standing precedent holding that employment-at-will agreements may not be modified by a policy or procedure unless it contains an express provision demonstrating that the parties intended to be bound by something other than the established at-will relationship.
Ogletree Deakins • June 28, 2017
Recently signed by Governor Walker, 2017 Wisconsin Act 11 went into effect on June 23, 2017. The act has two objectives. First, it seeks to modernize the language used in the Wisconsin Statutes to refer to labor performed by minors. More specifically, references to “child labor” have been replaced with the less loaded phrase “employment of minors.” The second, more substantive change made by the act is the repeal of the requirement that 16- and 17-year-olds obtain a state-issued permit before they can begin most work activities. Previously, such minors were required to show evidence of parental permission to work, and their employers were required to reimburse them for a $10 licensing fee payable to the state.
Ogletree Deakins • April 17, 2017
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has affirmed a decision holding that a call center employee with bipolar disorder proved that he was discharged “because of” his disability by establishing he was discharged for misconduct—i.e., avoiding calls—that was caused by his disability. In light of this case, Wisconsin employers dealing with employee misconduct that could be caused by a known disability may want to proceed with caution because, in some cases, the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act may require them to excuse the misconduct as a reasonable accommodation. Wisconsin Bell, Inc. v. Labor and Industry Review Commission, No. 2016AP355 (March 28, 2017).
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • February 26, 2017
A bill recently proposed in Wisconsin could seriously change litigation strategy and settlement considerations for many employment claims filed with state agencies. Assembly Bill 64 would amend the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (“WFEA”), the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (“WFMLA”), and the relatively new Organ and Bone Marrow Donation Law (“OBMDL”) by empowering both the complainant and an employer to make a statutory offer of settlement. Failing to accept such a settlement offer could result in significant financial consequences.