Workplace discrimination and harassment ultimately have many negative effects that can hurt morale and waste time, and these behaviors might cost billions of dollars annually. Employers in Wisconsin should consider taking steps to stop harassment before it starts, and workers can also educate themselves about appropriate behavior while on the job.
Many workers in Wisconsin are sexually harassed by their employers, supervisors or coworkers. Workplace sexual harassment can take many different forms, and it can range from inappropriate comments to physical assault. Other forms of workplace sexual harassment include displays of pornographic images, sexual jokes, unwelcome touching and requests for sexual favors.
Employees in Wisconsin who take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act should be aware that while they are protected for taking leave, their employers can still discipline them for unrelated reasons. This happened with one woman who was a supervisor. While she was on FMLA leave, some of the people who worked for her complained to management that she spent so much time online that she was unavailable to them.
Wisconsin residents are likely aware that the German auto maker Volkswagen is facing federal fines that some observers feel could reach nine figures. The manufacturer has admitted to using software designed to help its vehicles cheat federal emissions tests, and a March 7 report suggests that the Wolfsburg-based company have been dealt another legal blow. The reports concern a former Volkswagen worker who claims that he was fired for bringing attention to the illegal deletion of information at a Michigan data center.
At the end of February 2016, a senator from Wisconsin and a congressman from Maryland proposed an act designed to augment legal protections for some whistleblowers. Specifically, the new law, known as the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Nonretaliation Act, or the WARN Act of 2016, would change other existing laws to provide more rights for people who alert the authorities to misconduct by financial services entities.
A recent case involving a nurse with debilitating migraine headaches shows how important it is that individuals understand how the Federal Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, works. The woman in question was suffering from headaches so severe that it prevented her from doing her job. After her employer, a hospital, noticed the amount of time she was taking off work, they suggested that she go on intermittent FMLA leave.
A court in Dane County will hear arguments in a lawsuit brought by the Machinists Local Lodge 1061 claiming that the state's right-to-work law violates constitutional law. The law, signed by Gov. Scott Walker, stopped the requirement that employees in positions represented by private unions pay mandatory dues to a union. Machinists Local Lodge 1061, an affiliate of three labor groups including the International Association of Machinists District 10, asserted in its lawsuit that this new law requires unions to perform unpaid representation of nonunion workers.
A federal court upheld a decision made by Accentia Health to discharge an employee for posts made to his Facebook account while on leave. The man had been granted 12 weeks of FMLA leave plus 30 days of non-FMLA leave after undergoing shoulder surgery. While on leave, the man had posted pictures of himself swimming in the ocean despite his apparent injury. Fellow employees reported the postings to management.
Workers in Wisconsin may want to follow two recently filed lawsuits as they progress through the federal court system. The lawsuits, both filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will test whether gay and lesbian people are protected against discrimination in the workplace.