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Milwaukee Wisconsin Legal Blog

Business law advisors recommend employee handbooks

Owners of Wisconsin small businesses with few employees may feel it is superfluous to have an employee handbook. After all, the atmosphere is often less strict, and the employees have access to the owner if questions should arise. However, business advocates recommend that employers of even a single worker would reduce the potential for business law disputes by providing their employees with clear guidelines and expectations through an employee handbook.

Simply having policies in a written format for easy referral sets boundaries for employees and offers business owners a way to ensure they are treating all workers in a fair and consistent manner. A handbook can include the company-wide policy for vacation and sick days, absenteeism and lateness, dress code, and a code of conduct. A handbook can also reassure employees that their employer will deal quickly and harshly with workers who engage in harassment or discrimination on the job.

How bullying in the workplace affects employees

People spend the majority of their week at work and should be able to enjoy decent work conditions. For this reason, employee rights and regulations are in place. 

However, workplace bullying exists and remains prevalent in various work environments. Such conditions can have negative effects on employees.

Gender inequalities still contribute to workplace discrimination

The #MeToo movement rapidly spread near the end of 2017 after numerous allegations arose regarding sexual harassment in the workplace by some prominent figures in a variety of industries. However, before the surge of accusations associated with the movement came about, a survey was conducted about gender and the workforce. The results showed that workplace discrimination is still prevalent in Wisconsin and other areas around the nation.

Despite the great strides that have been made by women in the labor force, studies show that a gender imbalance still exists. Not surprisingly, workers' perceptions vary greatly depending on how many women and men work in a given setting. The 2017 survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center, a national organization that provides information on a variety of current topics and trends. The survey revealed that women who worked in predominantly male workplaces cited sexual harassment as a problem more often than those who worked mainly with females.

Employment law: Restaurant manager accused of harassment

Restaurants in Wisconsin and all around the country are the workplaces for many employees. In these hectic working environments, employment law experts note there are certain to be conflicts and misunderstandings among the employees. However, some current and former workers of a restaurant in another state have a more serious situation at hand. They allege that a manager at the restaurant was involved in inappropriate sexual conduct and workplace harassment.

Police reports show that the female workers said that the manager inappropriately touched various parts of their bodies. He also allegedly cursed at them and insulted them for not meeting his customer service standards. The manager is apparently still working at the restaurant, and he has not been formally charged as of yet.

IT manager alleges university guilty of workplace discrimination

Employees at Wisconsin companies and other businesses around the country expect that they will be given adequate tools to accomplish their jobs. They need to be given access to necessary information and receive timely approvals to proceed with their duties. Employees may suspect that they are being discriminated against if they see patterns of withholding information or access. An information technology manager in another state has requested an investigation of her employer following assertions of workplace discrimination and harassment.

The Office for Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination received a complaint from a former senior project manager at a university's IT department. The complaint alleged that the manager experienced gender discrimination on the job. Included in the complaint were emails, meeting notes, budget numbers and other documentation to support her claims of harassment and discrimination.

Why won’t my former employer give me a reference?

If you left your last job in good standing, you are likely hoping to keep professional connections with that employer in the future. These become especially important if you decide to seek employment again. Having a former employer provide a reference can make a big difference in your ability to earn a new job.

However, many employers are hesitant to do this, and human resources departments will often institute company policies that forbid employees from giving any references, beyond verifying an employee’s tenure dates at the company.

City, police bureau faced with whistleblowing lawsuit

Employees in Wisconsin and elsewhere around the country are often asked to evaluate various work processes and procedures as part of their jobs. Their reports may include findings of inefficiencies and result in recommendations for improvements to the systems involved. However, an employee in another state claims he experienced discrimination after he identified a massive amount of waste in an IT system. He has filed a whistleblowing complaint, stating that his career has been threatened after he raised the issue of waste in the company.

The employee was a police officer who had been with his department since 2012. In his evaluation of the information technology programs at the police bureau, he reported that millions of dollars had been paid to a professional services company that developed software. The company was hired to upgrade the technology for the bureau; however, the improvements and updates were never done.

Important facts to know about age discrimination protection

As employees age, they can find it hard to secure gainful employment. Along with employers not desiring to hire them, they may also face discrimination from some employers or management due to their age.

Thankfully, there are regulations in place to protect hard workers from such situations. There are a few important facts to know about age discrimination and the protection that the government provides.

Employment law: FMLA advocates want addition of paid leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was passed 25 years ago. This act had major implications in employment law for Wisconsin employees and others all across the nation. While the FMLA provides protection for workers when they must take off work for medical-related reasons, the time off they receive is unpaid. Many advocates believe that some level of paid leave is needed for workers.

FMLA allows employees to take leaves for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for certain family members, or to recover from a personal medical condition. While it is certainly positive to have the protections provided in the Act, experts cite some of the issues surrounding it. Many employees simply cannot afford to take off 12 weeks from work without pay, especially if it involved an unexpected accident or illness. Since women are the most likely to take the leave after a new baby, some contend it can negatively affect their long-term career prospects.

CEO replacement report seems to indicate workplace discrimination

Many businesses in Wisconsin and all across the nation refer to a glass ceiling – an invisible barrier that prevents certain groups of people from advancing to the top organizational levels in the workplace. While any minority group may face this barrier, women have traditionally been the group synonymous with this form of workplace discrimination. Recently, an outplacement firm published a report on CEO replacements that confirmed the ongoing issue of gender gap in the country.

The firm reported that 18.4 percent of the new CEOs in 2017 were women. In 2016, the number was slightly higher at 18.5 percent. The company felt compelled to couch their findings around the gender gap issue due to the current allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Leaders at the firm believed strongly that women should have the opportunity for upper-level management positions to ensure that they have a voice as policy changes occur at their companies.