On May 20, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court limited the tort claims an employee may bring based on alleged conduct that occurred between injuries covered under the state’s workers’ compensation law. The opinion in Graef v. Continental Indemnity Company may support employer arguments to limit employment-related litigation claims brought by employees because worker’s compensation provides an exclusive remedy to employees injured in the course of employment.
A growing trend among employers that are turning to new and updated methods of fostering employee collegiality and team bonding involves e-sports leagues. Similar to the traditional company softball team, e-sports leagues provide a modern method for employees to form teams that compete at video games against squads of workers from other businesses. This competitive medium has gained in prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic as employers seek innovative ways for employees to interact while observing social distancing precautions. Employers can view these competitive outlets as a means of fostering creativity, building rapport, and developing trust among personnel.
On January 5, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision in Kellogg v. Ball State University that expanded the scope of potential evidence plaintiffs may rely on to support their Equal Pay Act (EPA) claims. The decision serves as a warning to Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin employers to consider reviewing employee compensation to ensure compliance with pay equity requirements.
As the pandemic continues, a segment of individuals who contracted COVID-19 reports that they have not experienced a quick recovery. Rather, they are continuing to suffer symptoms months after initial onset of the disease. Known as coronavirus “long-haulers,” these individuals report that they endure effects such as chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, and other symptoms far down their road to recovery. While recuperation from a typical cold or flu lasts between 7 to 14 days, long-haulers are reportedly experiencing the consequences of COVID-19 for a far longer period and months after diagnosis.
In recent months, Wisconsin federal courts have witnessed a dramatic increase in class litigation raising breach of fiduciary duty claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). These claims target sponsoring employers and individuals who oversee plan investments and plan fees for employer-sponsored 401(k) plans.
Many businesses are continuing to hire for open positions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers that need to continue their hiring processes may see video conferencing platforms as a valuable tool to complete job interviews while maintaining physical distancing. While affording interview participants a more personable experience than a simple telephone interview, these software services can raise unique challenges and potential legal issues that employers may want to take into consideration.
On May 8, 2020, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) published a series of general and industry-specific guidelines to assist businesses with reopening under Governor Tony Evers’s “Badger Bounce Back” plan. Guidelines are available for many industries, including agriculture, construction, entertainment/amusement, gym and fitness centers, hair and nail salons, hospitality/lodging, manufacturing, professional services, public facilities, restaurants, retail, transportation, outdoor gatherings, outdoor recreation, and warehouse/wholesale trades.
On February 10, 2020, bipartisan cosponsors in the Wisconsin State Assembly introduced a trio of bills targeting the use of personal data information and modeled after the requirements of the European General Data Protection Regulation. Titled by their sponsors as the “Wisconsin Data Privacy Act,” the three bills work together to regulate what data a company may collect on an individual, when the company may collect it, how the company may use it, to whom the company may give it, and how long the company may retain it.
Some employers may think the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a law that does not apply to them because their employees are not represented by unions. However, the NLRA’s coverage is much broader than just union relationships.
On May 7, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision that will be welcomed by employers desiring to maintain differences in the benefits provided to their union and nonunion employees.
In a matter of first impression before the court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently held in Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority, Nos. 17-3508 and 18-2199 (June 12, 2019), that obesity is not a protected disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unless a plaintiff can demonstrate that it is caused by an underlying physiological disorder or condition. With the decision, the Seventh Circuit brought clarity to a novel issue previously unresolved for employers in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
The hiring process can be one of the most stressful steps of any employment relationship. As the employer, you are opening your doors to somebody who is hopefully going to contribute to your company’s success. Moreover, hiring is a process that requires both time and money. Thus, employers often want to expedite the hiring process.
The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what’s happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.
On January 25, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision friendly to businesses—particularly those operating in the gig economy.
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.
For the first time since a 2012 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals elaborated on and applied the Supreme Court’s four-factor analysis to determine whether a position is properly considered a ministerial roles. In its recent decision in Grussgott v. Milwaukee Jewish Day School, Inc., No. 17-2332 (February 13, 2018), the Seventh Circuit broke a 2-to-2 tie among the four factors and held that the circumstances in the case of a teacher at a Jewish school supported the conclusion that the teacher’s position was subject to the ministerial exception.
On November 21, 2017, the De Pere city council added to Wisconsin’s list of municipalities with local nondiscrimination ordinances.
On November 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule making significant changes to 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 40, which affects employers administering drug tests in the transportation industry. The final rule states that its purpose is to remain current with the changes made to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, which were announced in early 2017.