Employment & Labor

Yesterday the CDC issued new guidance recommending Americans to “wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.” The site includes a link so individuals can search their particular county to find out if transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high.  As of the date of this writing, Ruder Ware’s office locations in Brown County, Eau Claire County, and Marathon County all remain at “moderate” transmission levels according to the CDC.  The CDC guidance and county search engine can be found here. This new guidance comes on the heels of the Department…
With all the problems being described with unemployment here, there are also many efforts at reforming the unemployment system — especially of late — as the problems access and timely payments have become so obvious even John Oliver of Last Week Tonight can see them. A major report (over 100 pp.) for Reforming Unemployment Insurance is now available. A press release is also available. This report describes how unemployment is supposed to work, why national or universal standards for unemployment benefits are needed, how the financing of unemployment benefits needs to be stabilized and broadened, how numerous sectors…
The Department’s own claim-filing mistakes Note: 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, how most claims in Wisconsin — and unlike in other states — are being denied and thereby creating a ginormous backlog in hearings in part 4, in part 5 how the Department’s big push to fix the backlog in December 2020 was…
Since the onset of the pandemic, many employees have been forced to cease working due to COVID-19-related disabilities. While most people who become infected with COVID-19 fully recover in just a few weeks, some experience symptoms that persist well beyond this timeframe. This chronic condition has come to be known as “long COVID,” and is most commonly associated with symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, difficulty breathing, and headaches. While it’s unclear exactly how many people experience long COVID, a recent study by the Karolinska Institutet of Sweden found that eight months after mild COVID-19, 1 of every 10 people still…
On Friday, July 9, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order that, among other things, instructed the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to ban or limit non-compete agreements and other clauses or agreements that “unfairly limit worker mobility.” This is not a federal ban on non-compete agreements and does not change any current law. It is important to note, however, that the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, through civil and criminal enforcement actions, have already been looking at no-poach agreements between employers and other competitive restrictions through the lens of antitrust and consumer protection laws and have…
Phone calls to unemployment one year later Note: 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, how most claims in Wisconsin — and unlike in other states — are being denied and thereby creating a ginormous backlog in hearings in part 4, in part 5 how the Department’s big push to fix the backlog in December…
In order to encourage employees to be vaccinated, some of the largest employers in the country are offering cash bonuses for employees who get COVID-19 vaccines. One implication of these cash bonuses is that they may need to be included in the employee’s regular rate, thereby potentially increasing the employees’ liability for overtime pay. Calculating Overtime Pay Under 29 U.S.C. §207(a), overtime pay must be computed as time and a half the employee’s regular rate. The regular rate is an hourly rate computed by dividing the employee’s total compensation, minus overtime premium pay and other exclusions authorized by section 207(e)…
The U.S. Department of Labor recently proposed further rulemaking for tip regulations, which delayed some regulations until December 2021, while others took effect on April 30, 2021.  The FLSA allows an employer to count a limited amount of tips received by its tipped employees as a credit toward the employer’s Federal minimum wage obligations. This is called a tip credit, and employers may only claim it if their tipped employees retain all the tips they receive. Employers may however implement traditional tip pools, where tips are shared between all employees who regularly and customarily receive tips. In 2020, the Department…
It was about this time last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court extended Title VII protections to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status. Now the federal agency tasked with enforcing these new protections has clarified just what the new protections mean for employers. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released the information last Tuesday to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the landmark Bostock court decision. The comprehensive nature of the release, which includes a webpage, multiple fact sheets, and an administrative guidance document, underscores the agency’s commitment to vigorously upholding these new protections.…
Tax breaks for employers I previously described how the Joint Finance Committee ignored reality and state unemployment law — particularly the state’s partial wage formula that encourages people to work part-time while STILL being eligible for and collecting unemployment benefits — to make false claims about unemployment benefits keeping people from working. This effort is being done in the name of stigmatizing unemployment benefits. This push to end the pandemic relief programs early is still utter nonsense. What is lost in this hubbub is the essential nature of unemployment benefits in the first place. Unemployment is an insurance system.…
Several folks have forwarded to me different articles that describe the current unemployment situation. An article in Dissent establishes that the current attack on pandemic unemployment programs is mostly just another kind of attack on working folk. Across the country, workers have used the health and safety concerns posed by the pandemic and the enhanced unemployment insurance provided by the CARES Act to renegotiate the basic social contract that governs the American workplace. As social-distancing restrictions end and employers look to meet customer demand, pandemic unemployment benefits—which increase the amount in weekly income and the length of time that workers…
Over Memorial Day weekend, the Illinois Legislature unanimously passed a bill that would make significant changes to Illinois law regarding non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. If signed into law by Gov. Pritzker, which is widely anticipated, it will become effective and apply to any such agreements entered on or after, January 1, 2022. It will not affect agreements entered before January 1, 2022. The new bill would ban non-compete and non-solicitation agreements outright for many employees and place new conditions on employers seeking to enter or enforce such agreements. Changes under the new bill: A ban on non-compete agreements with Illinois…
At the 18 March 2021 meeting of the Advisory Council, the Department presented its first eight proposals. These first eight proposals included the proposals that the Advisory Council originally approved of in 2019 (but which were not enacted because of the pandemic). At the 15 April and the 20 May 2021 meetings of the Advisory Council, the Department presented another 18 proposals — D21-09 thru D21-26. Yikes. Here are those proposals, with links to the actual proposals that appeared at the May 2021 Advisory Council meeting. D21-09, Employee Status solely determined by unemployment law The Department seeks to…
Yesterday, both Wisconsin legislative chambers passed AB336, a bill to stop PUA, PEUC, MEUC, and PUC benefits in Wisconsin. The Republicans in the state legislature are pushing for the end of all of these pandemic-related supplemental unemployment benefits, under the disguise that these additional benefits are keeping people from working. Utter nonsense. The real reason for what is happening is a push to create a stigma against those receiving unemployment benefits. First, the news from a few days ago about a massive budget surplus based in large part on these federal supplemental unemployment benefits should be enough to indicate…
In September 2020, I described how the able and available questions on the weekly certification ignored actual Department regulations. In short, the questions about being able or available for full-time work ignored key regulations that allow claimants to answer “yes” if they could work to the best of their ability the number of hours they were capable of working. So, a claimant who can only work 20 hours in a week because of a physical or psychological disability should answer yes to these questions as long as they are capable of working 20 hours in a week and do not…
As we progress into 2021 and further away from 2020, many are beginning to feel as though they can finally see the light at the end of the “COVID-19 tunnel.” Vaccine distribution has increased. Offices and schools are reopening, people are returning to work, and many are experiencing something approaching normalcy in their lives again. However, there are some individuals who continue to struggle with long-lasting health effects: the COVID-19 long-haulers. COVID-19 seemed to affect everyone who became infected with it a little differently. Symptoms ranged from minimal to incapacitating with the duration ranging from days to months. Typically, though,…