Wisconsin employers should take care not to violate the rights of their employees during the holiday season. Although Christmas appears to be the prevalent holiday in December, people observe many other holiday traditions or no holidays at all. Employees have a right to decline participation in holiday or religious activities at work, and forcing them to participate could result in a discrimination lawsuit.
While age discrimination is against the law, many Wisconsin employees may still feel that their age could be against them when they are trying to find work. However, there are ways that employees can use their experience and age to their advantage when they are looking to be hired.
Wisconsin employees may not realize that there is no law protecting them from general bullying or harassment in the workplace. Nearly 30 states have tried to pass the Healthy Workplace Bill, which protects employees from a hostile work environment, but only Tennessee has managed to put in on the books, and it only covers government workers. This means that workers sometimes make the mistake of reporting harassment to human resources without documenting the events in a way that legally protects them, leaving themselves open to retaliation.
Wisconsin medical professionals might be interested in the results of a new Canadian study that shows that female surgeons employed at university medical centers affront more gender discrimination than they did when they were residents or medical students. However, overall, female surgeons report feeling highly satisfied with their careers.
In both Wisconsin and the rest of the country, 2015 saw a large number of wage-and-hour cases filed in federal court. Just through September, around 9,000 cases were filed in federal court, with several thousand more also being filed in state courts around the U.S. Over the last 15 years, the number of filed wage-and-hour cases has increased by a dramatic 450 percent.
National surveys conducted by Zogby and the Pew Research Center have indicated that Americans have negative views of Muslims more than any other religious group. For Muslim physicians in Wisconsin, this could translate into workplace discrimination, according to a University of Chicago study that collected responses from 255 Muslim American physicians about their perception of religious discrimination on the job.
Wisconsin employers may be aware of the potential repercussions for discrimination against an employee who is disabled. However, it is also important to exercise caution in dealing with individuals who might be regarded as disabled. An Illinois community college faced legal action because of changes in work responsibilities for an adjunct professor who underwent triple bypass surgery. Although the initial court decision favored the college, an appeal partly favored the instructor, resulting in portions of the case being sent back for a jury trial.
In a ruling that disabled professionals in Wisconsin and other states may find interesting, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided in favor of United Airlines after the company ceased honoring a disabled employee's job reassignment. Although the man subsequently brought a discrimination claim against the airline, on Dec. 3, the court ruled that the employer wasn't bound by the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide a guarantee of reassignment because it had a seniority system in place for determining who should receive jobs.
Medical professionals in Wisconsin and around the country understand that the nature of their work is somewhat unpredictable, and they appreciate that hospitals must be able to provide health care during emergencies and other unforeseen events. Vacations or sickness can sometimes leave medical facilities dangerously understaffed, and this may lead to employers asking or requiring nurses and doctors to work overtime.
Wisconsin residents may be pleased to hear that on Nov. 18, an air marshal who was fired after publicly disclosing Transportation Safety Administration plans to cut back on the number of air marshals on planes in 2003 was awarded nine years of back pay. In May, he had been reinstated in his position after a Supreme Court ruling found that he had not illegally provided information.