Joining more than two dozen other states that have barred local enactment of minimum wage or other employment laws, on March 22, 2018 the Wisconsin legislature passed Assembly Bill 748, intended to promote statewide uniformity in the regulation of employment practices. AB 748 prevents local governments and municipalities from enacting and enforcing their own ordinances relating to various employment matters, including several areas pertaining to wage and hour law. Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the Bill into law in the near future.
Articles About Wisconsin Labor And Employment Law.
In recent years, cities, counties, and other local government bodies across the country have enacted ordinances increasing the minimum wage, granting paid and unpaid sick leave, placing restrictions on how employees are scheduled, and requiring employers to enter into “labor peace agreements” with unions. As this activity has intensified, employers with operations in multiple jurisdictions within a state or across multiple states have been confronted with the onerous task of complying with a patchwork of conflicting employment rules. Wisconsin is about to join the list of over a dozen states that have taken action to preempt local governments from passing such ordinances.
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.”
In Wisconsin, post-employment restrictive covenants are governed by Wis. Stat. § 103.465, requiring that any restrictive covenant be reasonable to be enforceable.1
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.
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.
There are so many stories about restrictive covenants being unenforceable in Wisconsin that it is refreshing to see a case where a restrictive covenant is enforced – especially at the preliminary injunction stage.
Analyzing an anti-poaching agreement as a non-compete agreement, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals has confirmed that a former employee’s agreement not to solicit other employees may be void and unenforceable if it is too broad. The Manitowoc Company v. Lanning, No. 2015AP1530 (Wis. Ct. App. Aug. 17, 2016). The decision offers an analysis for determining when an anti-poaching agreement goes beyond protecting the employer’s legitimate interests and becomes an unreasonable restraint of trade.
A new Wisconsin law has repealed the state’s prohibition (which has existed for more than 50 years) on manufacturing, selling, transporting, purchasing, or possessing a switchblade and which subjected violators to $10,000 in fines and nine months in jail.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently helped clarify the circumstances under which pre- and post-shift donning and doffing constitutes compensable work under Wisconsin’s minimum wage and overtime laws.1 The decision, which involved production workers at a plant owned by Hormel Foods Corporation (“Hormel” or “the company”), also appears to narrow the applicability of the federal de minimis rule under state law.
Effective July 14, 2015, Wisconsin has made it easier for an employer to comply with Wisconsin Statute 103.85, Wisconsin’s “one day of rest in seven” requirement. Under this statute, most factory and mercantile employers must provide their employees with at least 24 consecutive hours of rest for every 7 consecutive days worked. These restrictions do not apply to certain categories of workers, including janitors; security personnel; those employed in the manufacture of butter, cheese or other dairy products, or in the distribution of milk or cream; those who work in canneries or freezers; individuals who are employed in bakeries, flour and feed mills, hotels or restaurants; employees whose duties include no work on Sunday other than caring for live animals or maintaining fires; and workers whose labor is required by an emergency situation that could not reasonably have been anticipated.
Wisconsin has firmly joined the majority of jurisdictions in the United States that hold that continued employment constitutes lawful consideration sufficient to enforce a restrictive covenant with a current at-will employee. The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in Runzheimer International, Ltd. v. Friedlen and Corporate Reimbursement Services, Inc., 2015 WI 45 (Wis. 2015), is a victory for Wisconsin employers and marks the end of years of debate on this issue.
On April 30, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Runzheimer Int’l, Ltd. v. Friedlen, settling a dispute in Wisconsin over whether continued employment alone was sufficient to bind an employee to a non-compete agreement. The case involved an important, if nuanced, distinction between (a) whether there is a legal “agreement” in the first place and (b) whether that legal agreement is enforceable. If there is no legal agreement, then there is nothing to enforce. If there is a legal agreement, the question becomes whether the restrictions themselves are enforceable (based on their reasonableness, etc.). The former question was addressed in Runzheimer.
The day after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) signed the state’s new right-to-work act, unions struck back with a complaint and a motion for a restraining order and temporary injunction. Three unions in Wisconsin, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAM”) District 10 and Local 1061, the United Steelworkers (“USW”), and the AFL-CIO, banded together against the State of Wisconsin, Governor Walker, and a handful of Wisconsin state agency officials to seek injunctive relief in Dane County Circuit Court.
The Wisconsin State Assembly has voted to make Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state in the country.