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Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

Child Labor Provisions of the FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act was established in 1938 and outlines federal laws that are ultimately used to protect employees in Wisconsin and throughout the United States. This legislation establishes a minimum wage for all workers, as well as overtime pay, and also sets standards for keeping records and youth employment. Employment as a minor is very important to many young individuals in the country and their protection is a priority.

The laws established by the FLSA set the age of 14 as the minimum age at which a minor can work in a non-agricultural position. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, children can work in television or radio, or even deliver the local newspaper, at any age. Agricultural positions follow a different age guideline, as do some states in which the minimum age is higher than that set by the FLSA.

Supreme Court upholds class action suit

Some workers in Wisconsin may have heard about a class action suit that employees of Tyson Foods are bringing against the meatpacking company. On Nov. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Iowa workers from a pork-processing plant who are suing for unpaid overtime.

The case landed in the Supreme Court after two lower courts agreed on a $5.8 million judgment for the workers. However, Tyson was not just seeking to get that ruling overturned. The company was also trying to change the laws around class action suits to make suing more difficult for workers. However, Supreme Court judges who questioned Tyson's attorney suggested that his argument was not convincing.

Wisconsin whistleblowers await federal judge's decision

Wisconsin whistleblowers who called attention to alleged Medicare fraud may be among those in multiple states who may soon be affected by how or whether US Department of Justice prosecutors can come up with additional evidence to comply with a federal district court judge's order. The judge has stated that she may throw out the whistleblower lawsuit unless the Justice Department can come up with more than expert opinion testimony. 

The whistleblower lawsuit is being prosecuted under the United States False Claims Act. The Justice Department claims that a hospice provider submitted false payment claims to Medicare, which – if the Justice Department's reimbursement claim is any indication – amounted to millions of dollars. When combined with additional fines and penalties being sought by the government are factored in the total amount claimed against the defendant to be more than $200 million.

Does Wisconsin law differ from federal Family Medical Leave Act?

Workers in Wisconsin should be aware they are protected by both state and federal laws pertaining to medical leave. There are, however, differences between the two statutes when it comes to eligibility and the amount of leave that may be taken.

Employers, unlike their employees, cannot pick and choose which of the two laws with which to comply. Employees, on the other hand, are not bound by the same restriction. Workers have the option of taking advantage of the benefits of either law that are the most favorable to them.

Employee rights and wrongful termination

Knowing your employee rights in the state of Wisconsin is an important part of having a successful career. Too many are unaware of federal laws that protect them against harassment, retaliation and uphold their fair labor standards while they are in the workplace. Certain guidelines must be met for all employees, but some are given even further or specialized protection—such as those with disabilities.

Retaliation and wrongful termination can significantly impact the life of an employee. Recognizing when wrongful termination has occurred is the key to safeguarding your position as an employee and any future career opportunities that you may have. 

What are some forms of whistleblower protection in Wisconsin?

Although Wisconsin provides multiple ways for employees to respond if they believe that they are being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers in connection with whistleblower activity, there is no single overarching whistleblower statute in this state to cover all circumstances. Instead, Wisconsin law with regard to whistleblower protections is more like a patchwork quilt of multiple statutes that cover specific situations, coupled with certain common-law protections as well as protections under federal law.

Common-law protections. Although not directly connected with whistleblower protection, several Wisconsin court cases have created a cause of action for wrongful termination if an employee is subject to retaliation by an employer. These situations can arise if the employer discriminates against an employee for taking advantage of rights and entitlements (for example, retaliating against an employee for making a workers' compensation benefits claim) or for failing to take steps that violate public policy (such as firing an employee who declines to commit perjury on behalf of the employer and the legal proceeding).

Manage stress while engaged in long-term disabilities dispute

Being involved in a long-term disabilities dispute in Wisconsin can be extremely stressful. This type of dispute unfolds when an employee, such as yourself, is denied benefits that are rightfully deserved after an accidents or serious medical condition has put that employee out of work. Not only could you be out of your job, but the continuous denial of benefits could mean that your income is limited to non-existent. You might also lose your health benefits until your claim is recognized.

During this time, the last thing that you need is the additional stress that comes with having a major court dispute. This stress can impact your healing process and create even bigger health issues. It is important to make relaxation a priority to that you may enter each day fulfilled and renewed.

Wisconsin Ban the Box campaign aims to protect applicants’ rights

Over the last few decades, employment law has evolved to restrict discrimination on many factors: sex, age, religion, color, natural origin and, more recently, LGBT issues. But another area of discrimination has been getting increased attention across the country. The issue is whether and how much a prospective employer can investigate an applicant’s criminal history.

In Wisconsin, about 8000 people each year are released from state prisons. That number doesn’t include those released from county jails. Before the EEOC began to ban such practices, applicants could be rejected on objective criteria even as flippant as whether an employer thought a woman’s place was in the home. But while those criteria can no longer be used legally to make employment decisions, one’s criminal history is still fodder for bias.

I reported fraud and faced retaliation, now what?

Bringing forth information and allegations that condemn an individual or Wisconsin-based business for committing fraud against the federal government takes a great deal of bravery. People who shed light on situations that are of public or federal concern often face backlash and retaliation. This can blemish a person’s professional as personal reputation.

If you brought sensitive information to light that outlined fraud and then faced backlash, you are protected under the federal False Claims Act. This act was put in place to both combat fraud and protect the careers and reputation of whistle-blowers. This act is often known as “Lincoln’s Law,” though it had little effect until the 1980s when it was given a new life.

Discrimination for taking family leave

Not one person in Wisconsin goes through their entire life without having to take leave from their place of employment for various reasons. This could include a personal medical issue or another situation relating to a close family member or child. When the time comes for you to ask your employer for leave, you might be intimidated by the fear of resentment from your employer because you needed to be away from work. Discrimination for taking leave is all too common, but your right to care for yourself and your family is protected through the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Family and Medical Leave Act requires your employer and every other employer in the United States to grant you medical leave in circumstances where it is necessary. This could include a serious illness, pregnancy or birth and even situations involving children or a spouse. Not only doe the act require that your place of employment give you this leave, it also requires that they grant leave with no strings attached. It is unlawful for your employer to retaliate or discriminate against you for needing to take leave away from work.

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