Wisconsin court bolsters arbitration agreements

The imposition of arbitration on the process of resolving employment claims continues. The most recent example comes from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, which issued a decision making it easier for employers to mandate arbitration for worker claims that employment law has been violated.

In Menard, Inc. v. Dep’t of Workforce Development, a woman was fired after 10 months at her job after the hardware store chain learned that she had a criminal record.

However, discrimination against employees on the basis of a conviction is in some situations prohibited in Wisconsin, so the worker filed a claim with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. But upon being hired, the woman had signed an employment agreement that stated that she agreed to settle employment disputes in arbitration.

Menard, Inc. filed its suit when the Department of Workforce Development did not stop processing her claim when requested. The company asked the court to force the state agency to stop its work on her claim; the circuit court agreed.

The Court of Appeals has now also agreed, holding that the contract the former employee signed clearly refers the discrimination claim to arbitration. This case underlines the importance of reading contracts before you sign.

And if the document you are being asked to sign is not clear, you can ask your prospective employer if the agreement contains a clause referring employment disputes to arbitration.

Many employees do not have arbitration agreements, of course. You can discuss the specifics of your potential claim with a Milwaukee employment law attorney.

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