If we step back and look at employer-employee relationships in Wisconsin for the past century, the obvious good news is that through a combination of federal and state legislation passed over the years, as an employee you have more rights and more protections today than ever before. But sometimes this progress can be more than a little confusing. You now have a plethora of statutory and regulatory protections that range from protecting you against discrimination in hiring, to ensuring that you have a safe place to work and are not subject to discrimination on the job, to rights that are available when you have changed family circumstances, and rights against being terminated unfairly.
Several months ago in this Wisconsin Employment Law Blog, we discussed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's message to employers who may employ victims of domestic violence. Although victims of domestic violence are not a protected class under federal anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC suggested that it may be illegal for employers to discriminate against victims under a number of overlapping laws. For example, not allowing a woman to leave work for a protective order proceeding might qualify as sex discrimination if male employees have been allowed to leave work for court dates.
A major challenge for many Wisconsin residents is to strike a comfortable balance between work life and home life. Most people who work and have families want to spend enough time on the job to build a successful career, as well as fit in a significant amount of time at home with loved ones. Some employers are more accommodating than others in allowing their workers to find this sweet spot.
In 1978, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to make it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in employment and in other areas. Nonetheless, 35 years later expectant women in Wisconsin are sometimes docked pay because of their pregnancy; they are refused promotions due to pregnancy; and they are sometimes even fired for requesting maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In other cases, women are sometimes refused employment because of the possibility that they may become pregnant.
Wisconsin women are protected from pregnancy discrimination under several federal employment laws. In fact, 25 years ago Congress amended Title VII in order to outlaw pregnancy discrimination. Not quite as long ago, back in 1993, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act required employers to provide employees with unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons, including childbirth. And, finally, in 2010 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide break time for mothers to pump breast milk for a nursing child.
We are wrapping up our series of posts about some recently proposed rule changes issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. To get an idea of how long it takes to turn an act of Congress into regulations, some of these proposed rules are changes to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act that were part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010. As we said before, it is important to remember that these proposals apply only to the federal law, not the Wisconsin FMLA.
We are continuing our discussion of proposed rules from the U.S. Department of Labor. The proposals would amend the federal Family and Medical Leave Act in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 and other laws. It is important to remember that these proposed rules will not affect the Wisconsin FMLA.
A recent spat between a female Fox News anchor who had just returned from maternity and a talk show host has revealed that some people are not familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act and the benefits applicable employees are entitled to under the Act.
A new study demonstrates the longer new mothers stay home with their newborns, the more likely the mothers will breast-feed their babies. The researchers who conducted the study found that new mothers who were at home for three months or longer were twice as likely to breast-feed their newborns beyond the three month mark.
The mayor of Anchorage, Alaska has requested that the Alaska state legislature remove the state's family and medical leave act. The request would not affect Alaska state residents covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Alaska's state family and medical leave act gives public employees an additional six weeks of leave beyond what the federal law allows.