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In a politically charged era where activism is considered noble, HR managers are confronting new challenges in the workplace in an attempt to find balance between the expression of disparate views while maintaining a productive and cohesive workplace.
Just Another Day at the Office
IT specialist Peter is a devout Catholic. His cubicle displays a Papal flag and other religious items. Several pro-life slogans are also posted on its walls. Sandra is a purchasing specialist who is passionate about
Continue Reading Managing Activism in the Workplace

Wisconsin is one of many states that limits the use of arrest and conviction records when hiring employees. The key exception to the use of a criminal conviction record is whether it substantially relates to the circumstances of the particular job. The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently addressed the issue in a case where an applicant engaged in extreme domestic violence. The court exonerated the employer for revoking an offer of employment.
Facts
In 2013, Derrick Palmer was convicted of
Continue Reading Wisconsin Supreme Court Weighs in on State’s Criminal Conviction Law

Securing the return of company property from departing employees isn’t a new issue for employers, but the increase in remote work since 2020 (sometimes involving long distances) may present additional challenges. Companies that have equipped their remote workers with computers, laptops, scanners, monitors, printers, phones, or other office equipment may face significant loss if workers fail to return them upon separating from their employment. What can companies do to ensure the return of their property?
Be Proactive
Start by
Continue Reading All Hope Not Lost When Attempting to Secure Return of Company Property

Current and former Northwestern University employees with contribution retirement plans sued their employer, its retirement investment committee, and the individual officials who administer the plans, alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) duty of prudence. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed the claims, and the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) affirmed the dismissal. Both courts found the duty of prudence was met because the
Continue Reading Supreme Court Says 7th Circuit Erred in Northwestern ERISA Ruling

Federal law bans employment discrimination against current or prospective employees based on race, age, and other protected classes. Additionally, it prohibits adverse action against employees based on a consumer report unless the findings are provided to the individual. Are the provisions violated when a prospective employee’s job offer is briefly rescinded and then reinstated? The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) recently addressed the issue.
Background on Title VII, ADEA, FCRA
Both Title
Continue Reading Temporary Rescission of Job Offer Isn’t Adverse Employment Action

Covid-19 has created many challenges for owners and contractors.  Initially, the biggest fear was that a Covid-19 outbreak might shut down a construction site.[1]  Next, material prices skyrocketed.  Currently, one of the largest concerns is the unreliable supply chain.  This article discusses supply chain delay claims and steps owners, contractors, and material suppliers can do to help mitigate the effects of supply chain troubles.
Ounce of Prevention
Steel deliveries have been a major supply chain issue.  However, the
Continue Reading Supply Chain Delay Claims:  A Day Late and a $1,000 Short

Summer is approaching. Maybe you already own property on a lake. Maybe you are looking into buying property on a lake sometime this year. You are envisioning your children or friends and family lounging on the pier or jumping into the lake off of the pier when the temperatures start to rise. You may get a new neighbor who places their pier a little too close to yours, or the configuration may be intrusive in one way or another.
Continue Reading But Where Can I Put My Pier?

A conservation easement is a permanent donation of a legal right in real estate by the property owner to a qualified non-profit organization such as a land trust.  While the owner retains title to the land, the donated easement gives the land trust the exclusive right to manage the land for the conservation purpose.  The donation of the easement can entitle the landowner to a charitable tax deduction for federal income tax purposes and a reduction in real estate
Continue Reading Preserving Land through a Conservation Easement

If we pay the premium for employees’ long-term disability (LTD) benefits and they need to use LTD one day, would they owe taxes on the amount they receive?
There are two main types of LTD plans. The first is considered a Group Long-Term Disability Plan (Group LTD). A Group LTD is generally employer-sponsored and covers all eligible employees. You may choose to pay part or all of the premiums for the Group LTD.
Another type of LTD is called
Continue Reading Taxes Owed on LTD Benefits Depend on Who Pays Premiums, and How

A recently introduced Wisconsin bill proposes to decriminalize marijuana and includes a provision limiting an employer’s liability for not testing employees. The bill doesn’t prevent employers from testing employees, however, or disciplining them for testing positive for marijuana use.
Current Law in Wisconsin
Possessing any amount of marijuana is currently illegal in Wisconsin, even for medical purposes. A first conviction is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to $1,000 in fines or up to six months in prison, or
Continue Reading Wisconsin Bill Would Decriminalize Marijuana, But It’d Still Be Illegal

Whenever the White House switches from one party to the other, there are risks because new appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) mean changes will occur in how it interprets and enforces the National Labor Relations Act (Act). Based on a recently issued notice and invitation to file briefs, all signs indicate we’ll soon see changes in the standard the Board uses to determine whether work rules interfere with employee rights under the Act.
Current Standard
Since
Continue Reading My Work Rule is Legal Today, But What About Tomorrow?

An employee’s dad is being flown to another hospital for COVID-19 treatment. She needs to drive her mom to the new hospital and therefore will miss at least one day of work. Would she be eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave?
To answer the question, we must first ask whether the FMLA applies to the daughter’s employer. If her employer is a public agency or a private employer that employs 50 or more employees for at
Continue Reading Deciding Whether FMLA Covers Daughter Transporting Mom to Care for Dad

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal statute that protects military servicemembers’ and veterans’ civilian employment rights. In addition to requiring employers to put individuals back to work in their civilian jobs after military service, USERRA mandates they provide employees on military leave with any seniority-based benefit they would have accrued but for the leave. In a class-action lawsuit originally filed in an Illinois district court, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which
Continue Reading 7th Circuit: Sick Leave Policy Not Seniority-based Benefit Under USERRA

The General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 requires employers to furnish a place of employment free from recognized and serious hazards, even if the danger isn’t specifically addressed by an established standard. With COVID-19’s emergence, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has committed to addressing employers’ failure to protect workers from the coronavirus by issuing violations of the General Duty Clause. Specifically, the agency has shown the importance of implementing and
Continue Reading Failure to Enforce COVID-19 Preventative Measures Results in Serious OSH Act Violations

When an employee is injured on the job, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (collectively, FMLA) may confer benefits in addition to what the state’s worker’s compensation provides. Employers subject to the FMLA should consider how the law interacts with their state’s worker’s comp law when FMLA-eligible employees need time off from work or modified duty after a work-related injury.
Return to Work Under Worker’s Comp
Many employers contract with
Continue Reading Mishandling Return to Work in Worker’s Comp Context Risks FMLA Liability

In 2014, I wrote an article about the Managed Forest Law (MFL) program, and I continue to be amazed at the emails I get with inquiries. Because the law has changed several times since 2014, I am updating that 2014 primer with some of the more impactful changes. If you have not done so, review the prior article to get a basis for the changes I discuss here. In 2016, Wisconsin Act 358 made some major changes to the
Continue Reading Managed Forest Law Revisited