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Fighting for Employees and Their Rights

Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

What is the process once a discrimination claim is filed?

A Wisconsin employee who thinks that he or she has been discriminated against has 300 days to file a compliant. After a complaint has been filed with the Equal Rights Division, an independent investigator will be assigned to the case. The investigator does not represent either the employee or the employer and cannot offer legal advice to either side.

Once the complaint has been filed, a copy o is sent to the employer. The employer then must provide a written answer to that complaint. When a response is received, the investigator may ask both sides for more information and ask if a settlement can be reached in the case. If no settlement is reached, the investigator will determine if there is probable cause or no probable cause to send the case to a hearing. If the investigator determines that there is no probable cause, the case is considered dismissed unless an appeal is filed within 30 days.

Female employees accuse Archie Comics of gender discrimination

Wisconsin fans of Archie Andrews might be interested to learn that three women who used to work for Archie Comics filed a lawsuit in early 2014 accusing their former employer of sexual discrimination. The women alleged that working directly for the company's female co-CEO made them targets and that that all female employees were disrespected. According to the suit, Archie executives made demeaning comments about the female co-CEO on a regular basis and would not speak to her directly, instead making one of the plaintiffs repeat everything they said even when they were all in the same room.

This employee said her discomfort over the workplace harassment forced her to quit. Her two successors, the other plaintiffs, were terminated for allegedly being insubordinate, according to the suit. The two women said their co-workers excluded them and that they were the only employees required to sign in and sign out. The company stated that none of the plaintiffs had reported any mistreatment, according to court papers.

Wisconsin workers dealt setback in employee rights lawsuit

After filing a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination against the giant retailer Wal-Mart, four Wisconsin women received a disappointing decision from the judge as they fought for employee rights. Stating that there wasn't enough evidence of differences between male and female pay for there to be a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the judge granted a summary judgment to the defendant.

The women were initially part of a class action suit that had been proposed, but a ruling made in 2011 by the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the federal rules precluded such a filing. After that setback, they filed another suit alleging that women were denied promotions and faced wage discrimination. In 2013, that too was dismissed. Other filings in locations across the country have encountered similarly negative results in claims that the company violated the law.

EEOC sues grocery chain for workplace discrimination

An employee in Wisconsin who is concerned about religious discrimination in the workplace may find a current lawsuit involving the supermarket chain Food Lion insightful. Religious discrimination is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and employees with sincere religious beliefs are required to be given reasonable accommodations. In the Food Lion case, an employee reportedly initially received this appropriate consideration when he worked in a store in Winston-Salem. However, the accommodations were not made at the Kernsville store to which he was later transferred. He was allegedly fired in 2011 due to his inability to work on Sundays.

The employee requested scheduling consideration for Sundays and Thursday nights so that he could attend formal activities in connection with his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. The manager of the second store allegedly indicated that this was a problem. The suit filed on Aug. 20, 2014, has been brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the former employee. The suit seeks back pay in addition to punitive and compensatory damages and various losses.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Issues FMLA Decision

On August 18, 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Hansen v. Fincantieri Marine Group, LLC, et al., No. 13-3391 (7th Cir., Aug. 18, 2014) stating that plaintiffs pursuing claims under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") are not required to present expert testimony regarding their incapacity on certain days in order to establish that they are entitled to FMLA leave.

$6 million payout from LinkedIn to workers

Wisconsin residents who are users of LinkedIn may not have heard that the company must pay almost $6 million in wages and damages to 359 of its employees. On Aug. 4, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the company would pay the amount to workers in four states.

A LinkedIn representative stated that it was mostly employees in sales who were affected and that the failure to pay was the result of lacking the right tools to track employee hours. LinkedIn says it was already taking steps to solve the issue before the Department of Labor became involved.

Retail giant sued for discrimination

Wisconsin employees may want to pay close attention to an employment discrimination case involving a major retailer. A Target employee in Houston, Texas, has sued the company for racial and disability discrimination as well as retaliation. He is asking for punitive and compensatory damages, reinstatement and attorney's fees.

The plaintiff has worked for the company in three different stores and in a variety of positions since 1993. He has two rods in his back and has been diagnosed with both dyslexia and autism. The lawsuit states that the conditions do not prevent him from performing any of his job duties. However, he claims his supervisors made frequent adjustments to his schedule and assigned him menial tasks.

Unpaid interns not considered employees

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a former psychologist intern at the Medical College of Wisconsin is not protected under state anti-retaliation rules for health employees. The reasoning for the decision is due to the fact that the woman who made the complaint was an unpaid intern. As she had not been compensated for her work, she was unable to be considered an employee under the law. The ruling noted that if unpaid interns were classified as employees, almost everyone would have to have been classified as an employee.

In her August 2009 complaint, the woman alleges that she was terminated from an internship a week after meeting with her supervisor at the transplant surgery unit of Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital where she was assigned for her internship. She reportedly asked for the meeting to discuss unethical behavior. According to the college through which she interned, the woman was let go because of concerns due to her performance, which began before the complaint was made.

Wisconsin man terminated after showing firearm to co-worker

Milwaukee workers may be interested in the case of a Wisconsin man who was terminated due to a firearm he kept in his vehicle. Though the man had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the employer claimed that the gun was taken outside of the car at some point.

An employee of a Wisconsin door and window company was working in March when he showed a fellow worker a firearm that he kept in his vehicle. The man claims that they were inside of his car at the time and that he had a valid concealed weapons permit. This permit, he says, specifically limits the ability of an employer to terminate an employee for keeping a firearm inside their vehicle. This provision applies on the employer's property.

Reducing employee discrimination

Wisconsin employees may be affected by new legislation designed to protect pregnant women from job discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated 30-year-old doctrines to clearly articulate that any form of discrimination against pregnant women at the workplace is to be considered illegal and constitutes sexual discrimination. The chairwoman for the EEOC says that the agency continues to receive an alarming amount of claims alleging overt or subtle discrimination against pregnant employees.

The new standards set forth by the EEOC prevent employers from requiring employees to take leave from work, stating that they are obligated to provide pregnant workers with light duty instead. In addition, lactation will now be considered as a medical condition related to the pregnancy. Men may now receive paternal leave as well. These changes were implemented less than a month following the Supreme Court's decision to hear a case concerning the EEOC's duty to attempt to settle workplace discrimination charges before filing a claim against the employer in court.

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