Employment & Labor

The unemployment special session has come and gone with nothing to show. For some reason, however, folks seem to think a new mainframe is somehow vital to fixing the unemployment case-handling problems at the Department. I have to ask: what are they smoking? A new mainframe is a four to eight year project, and there is no guarantee of success. Massachusetts, for example, did not actually get a new unemployment system until its third attempt at replacing its old mainframe. And, in every state that has moved to a new claim-filing system, the effort has taken numerous years of…
The Continued Assistance Act had a rocky signing, but it is now law and some details are starting to emerge. As with this pandemic, there are numerous programs, and it is vital that you keep the distinctions clear for yourself. So, first determine which unemployment benefit applies to you and then read the section for that specific benefit. And, then read about the other benefit programs, as those will likely affect you as well at some later point if not immediately. The Department indicates that it hopes to start paying out the new $300 PUC benefit before the end…
Since COVID-19 vaccinations have received emergency use approval (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are being distributed in the United States, employers should evaluate whether they will implement mandatory vaccine policies in their workplaces and the legal and regulatory implications of doing so. Employers should look at the risks associated with a mandatory policy versus those associated with a voluntary policy, and how these competing risks may affect their business practices. If employers decide to make the vaccine mandatory, they will need to understand employees’ refusal rights, how refusal impacts a mandatory policy, and whether termination of…
The Department has announced that it is making BIG changes to the claim-filing process and has even invited public comment on those proposed changes by asking folks to download a spreadsheet setting forth those changes. These comments are due Jan. 8th. These proposed changes hardly match what has been promised, however. Problems with form The MS Excel spreadsheet for viewing the proposed changes and for providing these comments is extremely difficult to use. The spreadsheet originally had several columns that were over 15″ wide and would barely fit on my mammoth 24″ 1920×1200 monitor. Moreover, the links to actual graphics…
Previous posts detailed the length of time and number of cases in the unemployment backlog in part 1, some of the mistakes by the Department that allow cases to be re-opened in part 2, a place for stories and advice about how to find assistance in part 3, and how most claims in Wisconsin — and unlike in other states — are being denied and thereby creating a ginormous backlog in hearings. The Department announced at the end of 2020 that the claims backlog had been cleared and that Transition Secretary Pechacek was now Secretary-Designee for
On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the much-anticipated Coronavirus relief bill, formally titled the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Act), into law. In addition to COVID-19 relief measures, the Act includes significant amendments to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Beginning April 1, 2020, the FFCRA required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two types of paid leave to qualified employees: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA). Employers could claim a tax credit against the employer portion of Social Security taxes for up to 100% of EPSL and EFMLA…
On Sunday, December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the legislation providing government funding and a long-anticipated coronavirus relief package (the “Bill”). The wide-sweeping Bill contains a number of key provisions that will impact both public and private sector employment in 2021. Of particular significance to employers is that: The Bill does not extend the mandates of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) enacted under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The Bill allows tax credits to employers for “FFCRA like” paid leave benefits paid to employees through March…
The approval of two—and potentially more—COVID-19 vaccines by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been met by employers with optimism that their safe-workplace woes related to COVID-19 are at long-last coming to an end. Although there is cause for hope, employers should beware of the legal pitfalls of mandating a vaccination program among its workforce. Can We Mandate the Vaccine? As the impending likelihood that a COVID-19 vaccine will soon become available to essential workers and the general public, many employers are considering implementing a mandatory vaccination program for employees. For some employers, a mandatory vaccination program may…
Actual provisions are scarce. But, you can get a description of the unemployment provisions from Michele Evermore of NELP and from the National Law Review. Some things claimants should immediately note: benefits for PEUC and PUA programs are extended an additional 11 weeks to March 14th an additional $300 PUC is added for anyone receiving PEUC, PUA, EB, or regular unemployment benefits during these additional weeks, anyone who has not exhausted PEUC benefits (now 24 weeks in toto) or PUA benefits (now 50 weeks in toto) can continue to receive those benefits after March 14th to the week of…
Stafford Rosenbaum LLP’s election and political law attorneys have had a 2020 filled with noteworthy cases. The new practice group was launched this year, co-chaired by Attorneys Jeff Mandell and Doug Poland, and has been even busier in the last quarter of the year with cases involving presidential post-election results challenges. Stafford Rosenbaum represents Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on post-election matters, which has involved researching and advising on vote recounts and matters surrounding them. There are now seven lawsuits challenging the presidential election results, two in which Stafford Rosenbaum LLP has been heavily involved that were filed as original…
Today the EEOC updated its guidance surrounding COVID-19 and vaccinations in the publication titled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” In its most recent update, the EEOC has added questions and answers to help employers navigate the new COVID-19 vaccine. The questions are added as a new Section K. Vaccinations, and include numbers K.1 – K.9.  The EEOC clarifies that while employers may be able to require a vaccine (depending upon the workplace and whether the employer can establish a safety threat) they must remember to engage in the interactive…
With the news that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available in Wisconsin, employers are beginning to question whether they can—or should—require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Although employers can mandate the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, as discussed below, this may not be the best choice for most employers. When determining whether to implement a mandatory vaccination, employers should assess the exposure risk inherent in the workplace. For example, is it a high risk workplace, such as a hospital or nursing home? Second, employers should consider the effect of a mandatory vaccination program on workplace morale. Recent…
At the end of last week, the Court of Appeals recommended for publication an opinion resulting from a permissive interlocutory appeal sought by Stafford Rosenbaum on behalf of the City of Monroe.  Stafford sought the appeal after the trial court denied the City’s motion for summary judgment asserting absolute and governmental immunity in response to a slip and fall complaint.  As explained below, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded with directions to enter summary judgment in favor of the City dismissing the complaint. See Knoke v. City of Monroe et. al., No. 2019AP2003 (Wis. Ct. App. Dec. 3,…
At the end of last week, the Court of Appeals recommended for publication an opinion resulting from a permissive interlocutory appeal sought by Stafford Rosenbaum on behalf of the City of Monroe.  Stafford sought the appeal after the trial court denied the City’s motion for summary judgment asserting absolute and governmental immunity in response to a slip and fall complaint.  As explained below, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded with directions to enter summary judgment in favor of the City dismissing the complaint. See Knoke v. City of Monroe et. al., No. 2019AP2003 (Wis. Ct. App. Dec. 3,…
Associational disability discrimination happens when a covered employer discriminates against a nondisabled person for having a relationship with a person who has a disability. Since 2004, the Seventh Circuit has recognized three forms of associational disability discrimination. But earlier this year, the Seventh Circuit held that it is open to new theories of associational disability discrimination. Scope of Associational Discrimination & Applicable Law Most are aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals who have disabilities in covered workplaces.1 In addition, the ADA also prohibits “associational discrimination,” discrimination against able-bodied individuals.2 The ADA states that a…
In recent weeks, the prospect of an approved, widely available COVID-19 vaccine has become much more tangible as several pharmaceutical companies have presented promising preliminary data regarding the effectiveness of their vaccine trials. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received two applications for emergency use authorization within the last month with meetings scheduled to begin this week. On December 2, 2020, Britain authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the first western nation to do so.1 In light of these developments, the CDC has indicated the possibility of one or more COVID-19 vaccines becoming available for public…