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Milwaukee Wisconsin Legal Blog

Understanding Wage And Hour Law

Every employer should be familiar with wage and hour laws set by the US federal government, as well as state and local laws. Wage and hour laws protect workers' rights. The law states the minimum amount a worker can earn per hour and the maximum hour that a worker can be expected to work in a day. The law also provides rules for overtime pay, break time regulations, tips, pay periods, direct deposit, paycheck deductions and weekend pay.

At the federal level, the majority of wage and hour laws are set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets other parameters such as which employees can work for less than the federal minimum wage. Here are a few facts you should know about wage and hour laws:

Should You Sign A Severance Agreement?

If you have been terminated from your job and your employer offers you a settlement agreement, it can be tempting to immediately sign the document. Becoming suddenly unemployed can make a settlement agreement very enticing.

Here are three reasons why you should not sign a settlement agreement before an experienced attorney reviews it.

What your employee's medical leave means for your small business

One of the biggest challenges a small business owner may face is when an employee takes unpaid medical leave. Each state holds its own intricacies and special laws that allow a singular person or a family to take a medical leave of absence. With federal acts like the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), sometimes employee rights and employer obligations overlap. Here's what you need to know to make sure you successfully manage your employee's medical leave.

When Congress passed FMLA in 1993, it required certain employers to give workers up to 12 weeks off (per year) to care for themselves, a family member, or a new child, or deal with issues arising from military duties of a family member. But not all personal emergency qualifies under FMLA. If your employee is seeking the help of FMLA, the reason they are doing so must fall under one of these categories:

Business law: What to do when a contract is breached

Business owners in Wisconsin understand the time and attention to detail that is required to run a successful operation. Many take pride in their dedication to their business and its practices. However, some owners overlook a basic aspect of business law -- how to enforce a breached contract.

As a legal agreement between two parties, breaching a contract has consequences. There are multiple ways to handle a situation in which one or both parties fails to uphold their contractual obligations. Some contracts include provisions for just such a situation, and might outline that the issue will go through arbitration before either party may seek further legal action.

Workplace Age Discrimination Explained

Technically speaking, age discrimination in the workplace is illegal. It was made that way by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, some 50 years ago. This federal law was specifically intended to protect workers who were 40 years or older in age from being mistreated in the workplace in favor of younger workers and applied to employers with more than 19 employees.

Recently, the Supreme Court decided a case, Villarreal v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco that has many worried that the government has just wiped out ADEA protections. This is not true. What did happen is that the court limited liability to an existing employee of the defendant company at the time that the discrimination occurred.

Pregnant women still face ongoing workplace discrimination

Having a child is often one of the greatest joys for Wisconsin parents. However, many working women struggle with telling their employer or potential future employer that they are expecting. Workplace discrimination against pregnant women is a real and ongoing issue with which many women struggle, and it may impact their ability to find and maintain gainful employment.

It is up to women whether they would like to disclose during an interview that they are pregnant. However, the decision is not always clear-cut. Pregnant women often fear that they will be discriminated against if they reveal that they are pregnant, even though federal law forbids employers from basing hiring decisions on pregnancy. There is also the concern that future employers might think they have a lack of transparency if a woman does not reveal that she is pregnant until after she is hired.

Wisconsin business law can be complicated -- get help first

Setting out on a new business venture can be an exciting part of your life. You may have had your business idea simmering in the back of your head for years, waiting for the right time to move forward. However, Wisconsin business law can be complicated, and small mistakes can add up, possibly compromising the security of your venture. Guidance from an experienced counsel can often help create a solid business foundation.

Choosing the right formation for your business and its needs is essential. The chosen corporate form can impact virtually every part of daily operations, and may also have considerable tax and personal implications. Different possible formations include:

  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • S- or C-corporation
  • Sole proprietorship
  • Co-operative
  • And many others

Four Facts About Harassment At Work

The actresses who have publicly addressed allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have revived a national conversation about the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. Many women have shared their own stories of harassment in day to day life on social media, putting the issue in a new perspective for friends and family. It has been more than 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed sexual harassment as a form of discrimination. Yet, it continues to be a huge problem.

Here are four facts to highlight the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace:

Workplace discrimination allegedly rampant at Tesla factory

Work should be a safe environment in which employees can complete their assigned tasks without worry. Unfortunately, many people in Wisconsin and across the rest of the United States continue to face ongoing discrimination from their employers. Several workers recently accused auto manufacturer Tesla of serious acts of workplace discrimination at one of its facilities.

Tesla is currently facing four lawsuits for worker mistreatment that allegedly took place at an out-of-state facility that employs approximately 10,000 people. At least four different employees claim that they faced racial discrimination while working at the factory in question. One former employee alleged that he was called racial slurs and threatened with physical violence. Tesla refuted those claims, instead insisting that he had been the one to use such language.

Whistleblowing VA dentist placed on administrative leave

VA patients rely on timely consultations and treatments for their injuries, many of which might be severe or stemming from their service in the armed forces. Unfortunately, VA patients in Wisconsin and elsewhere often face long wait times, and one dentist claims she knows why. Currently in an administrative position as a result of being targeted for whistleblowing, she blames much of the dental care weight times on paperwork.

Rather than file things electronically, employees at the VA dental clinic where she worked were expected to fill out paper work by hand and then fax them elsewhere to be entered into the electronic system. She claims that this was a lengthy process that could take anywhere from several days to many weeks, and that it caused significant delays in patient care. An investigation revealed that one patient sought consultation for a mouth lesion, and had to wait just shy of three months for a biopsy request.