The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees in Wisconsin and around the country from discrimination based on race, age, gender or national origin, and it also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations when workers make requests of a religious nature. Such accommodations are usually straightforward and rarely amount to more than allowing employees to take short periods of time off to attend religious ceremonies or services, but companies may face difficult decisions when the worker concerned performs particularly hazardous or important work.
Many Wisconsin workers assume that if their employer does something, it must be legal. This is in large part due to a belief that the company they work for knows the laws and would not break them. However, there are a number of laws that are violated regularly in workplaces today, including disciplining people for comments made on social media and telling employees they cannot discuss their wages.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 says that workers must be paid equally for equal work regardless of their gender. Workers must also be paid in the same manner for performing substantial equal duties. For instance, if a male worker is paid an hourly rate to perform his duties, a female employee must receive the same rate. It is not acceptable to provide bonuses or other perks to make up for any difference in wages.
Many businesses in Wisconsin outsource labor by hiring temporary workers through staffing agencies. Because staffing agencies tend to pay low wages and offer no employment benefits, companies can save a lot of money using temp workers instead of full-time employees. Temp workers are employed by the outside temp agency rather than the company they are doing work for, so many companies think that they are not responsible for the way that these workers are treated.
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.