Employment & Labor

NELP staffers have an editorial about being “Unemployed in America, and tired of waiting.” Some key points to pay special attention to: With roughly one in four workers having suffered some loss of employment since March, Congress has responded with federal dollars to bolster inadequate state unemployment compensation and to cover millions of workers who are not normally eligible. But these new programs and benefits are being delivered through a crumbling infrastructure that is collapsing under the weight of worker demand. Unemployment was originally designed to provide massive economic stimulus to millions of workers during a recession. So,…
Way back in March, as the pandemic began to set in, Congress quickly passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act) as part of a barrage of legislation aimed at providing relief to American workers.  The Act requires that companies with fewer than 500 employees offer expanded paid leave—80 hours of paid sick leave for those unable to work due to the virus and up to 10 weeks of partially paid family leave for those unable to work due to school or daycare closures—and compensates those companies with fully refundable tax credits.  Self-employed individuals who take paid leave are…
On June 9th, Sec. Frostman indicated a change of heart at the Department, as the Department now considered the denial of PUA benefits to SSDI recipients to be both in violation of the CARES Act and discrimination against the disabled in violation of various federal requirements. But, the Department delayed taking any action by pushing the issue back to federal authorities for additional clarification. In the meantime, actual cases regarding the denial of unemployment eligibility continued. On June 30th, I filed an appeal in one of those cases. In this appeal, I asked the Commission for a quick decision…
With schools closed for the COVID-19 pandemic, both parents in two-parent households may want to stay home while shelter-in-place orders are in effect. Will they be eligible for monetary relief and protection under new sweeping federal legislation? The answer is especially critical if both work for the same employer. What the FFCRA Covers The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a federal law that went into effect April 1, 2020. It provides monetary relief and protection to American workers through the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). Among many…
“Do I have to pay workers’ compensation benefits to an employee who trips on her dog and injures her knee while working from home?” This may not be the first question on employers’ minds as they adjust to the new norm of working from home. It’s something you should start thinking about, however, as the new work-from-home operations get up and running during the COVID-19 outbreak. The answer, though—as is the case with many legal questions—is, it depends. The situation is highly fact-intensive, and the law doesn’t yet provide any clear guidance. But there are steps you can take to…
Note: This article is reproduced here with permission from Hawks Quindel, s.c. Wisconsin workers are generally entitled to worker’s compensation benefits when they are injured at work, including payment of their bills for medical treatment. Decisions of both the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission confirm that undocumented workers are entitled to the same benefits as all other injured employees. Wisconsin Worker’s Comp is Blind to Immigration Status Wisconsin doesn’t exclude workers from worker’s compensation based on immigration status. The law is written so almost all employers in Wisconsin are required to have worker’s…
ProPublica details perhaps the worst state in the nation for unemployment: North Carolina. A few highlights from the article. Some state unemployment systems have long been designed to exclude applicants. . . . Among the worst, historically and at present, is North Carolina. At the end of 2019 — when the economy was humming and pandemics were the stuff of horror fiction — fewer than 1 in 10 jobless people in North Carolina received unemployment benefits. That’s the lowest rate in the country and well below the average of 26%. * * * In Massachusetts, 66% of new applicants…
Wisconsin Watch reviews the stories of several claimants facing incredibly long delays in the processing of their unemployment claims. Some perspective, however, is needed on what these stories reveal. First, the story reports that around 150,000 claimants are still waiting for their claims to be decided. The May 2020 jobs report indicates that the workforce in Wisconsin is just under 3.1 million. Some simple math reveals that the number of workers with outstanding claims waiting and waiting is roughly 5% of the state’s entire workforce. So, just like disabled workers, one out of every twenty people who work are…
Recall that Wisconsin denies unemployment benefits to SSDI recipients. But, with the pandemic and the economic stimulus created in the CARES Act, it seemed that the disabled in Wisconsin should be eligible for federally-funded PUA benefits based on the statutory provisions in that act. For some reason, Wisconsin DWD decided the prohibition on eligibility in state law would govern this federal law. By mid-May, legislators were getting dozens to hundreds of inquiries regarding PUA-eligibility for the disabled. At this time, DWD-UI had received a generic “conclusion” from the US Dep’t of Labor that the SSDI-recipients were NOT eligible for PUA…
Today, June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling holding that an employer who fires an individual based on his or her sexual orientation or transgender status violates Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination “because of . . . sex.” In a 6-3 decision, the majority found that “[s]ex plays a necessary and undisguisable role” in a decision to terminate an individual for being homosexual or transgender, which is “exactly what Title VII forbids.” Although the Court recognized that “homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex . . . discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender…
Fortunately, legal services have been deemed “essential” under various quarantine orders in place since March, which has allowed law firms to continue operations on site or virtually. Although some litigators and criminal law attorneys have faced delays as cases have stalled in the courts, other attorneys have provided legal services without interruption. Whether working remotely or in their offices, all attorneys are navigating new ways of meeting and communicating with their colleagues and clients. As we prepare to reopen or resume full operations amid COVID-19, there will be new challenges and questions. We must put measures in place to be…
CBS 58 has a report about how Wisconsinites with a BAR are not receiving any of the $600 PUC payment despite guidance that they should receive at least $300 PUC payment each week. The key paragraph from the story: “We have received verification [from the US Dep’t of Labor] that if somebody has a BAR fine, which is a benefit amount reduction, they are not eligible to receive Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which is the acronym FPUC or the additional $600 a week, and basically it’s because this person was found to have committed fraud against the system and therefore…
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to run its course, Wisconsin employers should be prepared for an increase in claims arising from job losses caused by pandemic shutdowns and related employment decisions. While much attention is rightfully given to federal employment laws, it is important to note that state laws can – and often do – vary considerably from federal laws. Importantly, when two or more laws apply to an employee, the employee generally receives the benefit of the most favorable provision. That said, understanding nuances between state and federal law can reduce legal liability. This article highlights what employers should…
Jake has the 2019 gold standard numbers, and they are just terrible. Wisconsin’s rate of job growth started to decline in mid-2016, and has pretty much gone down since then, with the except of a Bubbly 6 months after the GOP Tax Scam was signed into law. But last year was a new depth, with barely more than 5,000 jobs added from December 2018 to December 2019, and we even slipped below 0 in November before a small rebound in the last month of 2019. Jake compares the jobs picture in Wisconsin with Minnesota, and the comparison does not…
Right now, there are many, many unemployment claims being filed in Wisconsin. But, the problems folks in Wisconsin are having with their claims arise to a great degree from policy choices being made about how those claims should be processed and how the Department decides to enforce federal and state legal requirements. Last week, the NY Times Upshot examined claims data for all 5o states and concluded that, in general, states have made it harder to get jobless benefits. The story included three charts indicating in various ways how unemployment eligibility and payments have changed for each state. Here…